Cronulla Sharks to defend NRL fine, coach ban

BEN HORNE
Last updated 07:09 20/12/2013

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Cronulla aren't prepared to go down without a fight, announcing they'll challenge the NRL's A$1 million fine and suspension of coach Shane Flanagan.

The Sharks also confirmed on Thursday night that assistant coach Peter Sharp would take charge in the interim.

On Tuesday, NRL chief executive David Smith handed down his damning findings that Cronulla had seriously breached the game's code of conduct with their 2011 supplement program, and that Flanagan had failed in his duty of care to players.

The club was hit with a proposed A$1 million fine - with A$400,000 of that suspended - while Flanagan was provisionally suspended from all duties for 12 months.

However, all parties had until January 15 to respond to the findings before Smith decides on the final punishments to be handed down.

Cronulla wasted no time in issuing a response, deciding unanimously at a Thursday night board meeting to assemble a legal team and fight for the reputation and future of the club.

"The board unanimously agreed to undertake some legal inquiries into the breach notice and respond accordingly with the NRL," Sharks chairman Damien Keogh told AAP.

"We'll appoint a legal team to go through it and look at our options and they'll come back and give us some advice and we'll pursue it with the NRL. Timing wise it's going to be interesting because a lot of people have shut down over Christmas."

Keogh said there was no discussion about bringing in an interim coach from outside the club, despite speculation that former Sharks halfback Brett Kimmorley was in the frame.

"Our focus is on what's in front of us at the moment with the breach notice," said Keogh.

NRL boss Smith on Tuesday also cleared sacked Sharks employees - football manager Darren Mooney, physiotherapist Konrad Schultz and doctor David Givney - of any wrongdoing in the ongoing saga.

Smith made it clear Flanagan and former Sharks and now Parramatta strength and conditioner Trent Elkin, who was provisionally de-registered for at least two years, were the only men in his sights.

However, Keogh said the board did not discuss the prospect of reinstating Mooney, Schultz and Givney.

The trio were stood down, along with Flanagan and trainer Mark Noakes, after the Sharks reacted to being named in the ASADA drugs in sport investigation by conducting an independent review into the 2011 season.

Flanagan was re-hired three weeks later, and Noakes was given his job back later in the season, but Mooney, Schultz and Givney have remained on the outer.

Sharp coached Manly and the Northern Eagles more than a decade ago, and the experienced mentor is well liked by the playing group.

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Helping Sharp will be fellow assistant James Shepherd and NSW Cup coach Tony Herman.

- AAP

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