Sharks coach lists referees' errors in stunning tirade after NRL elimination
Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has launched a stunning tirade on the referees after his team was eliminated from this year's NRL finals by the North Queensland Cowboys, denying the Sharks a chance to defend their NRL title.
Flanagan took the rare step after the game of reading out a prepared list of what he believes were errors made by the officials in the 15-14 extra-time defeat.
He also took the extreme measure of clarifying his prepared statement with NRL head of football Brian Canavan after the game, but before he fronted the mandatory post-match press conference.
"I just wanted to make sure that we could talk about decisions and I'm not talking about the integrity of the referees," Flanagan said on Sunday.
"We talk about the games, we want to get people here. We've got bigger issues. We've got to fix this up."
Among Flanagan's list were Paul Gallen's knock-on in the final minute of regular time and James Maloney's first-half sin-binning for a professional foul.
- "When is James Maloney a professional foul? It's not a professional foul. It's a penalty, if that."
- "Luke Lewis got run off the ball every time. Go and watch the video how many times he got knocked to the ground in kick-chase.
- "Jayden Brailey going in to tackle the kicker, the kicker kicks the ball at him. He doesn't play at it. Scrum, Cowboys feed."
- "If anyone on this planet thinks Andrew Fifita knocked the ball on, it went tunnel ball through his legs."
Flanagan had two more he believes cost them the game - the first of which was Gallen's late error, and a penalty against Matt Prior soon after that resulted in the Cowboys sending the game into extra time with a penalty goal.
"Paul Gallen, trying to get up to play the ball, and there's a bloke that pulls the ball out," Flanagan said.
"But go down the other end of the field, Matt Prior affecting the tackle, they say he pulls it out and they kick a goal.
"Paul Gallen's should have been a penalty, game over we win the game, full stop. So we talk about decisions, crucial decisions, all wrong."
Flanagan is the third NRL coach to take aim at the game's officials in the space of 24 hours, joining Manly's Trent Barrett and Parramatta coach Brad Arthur.
The Sharks coach said it was disappointing that he had to talk about the referees.
"It's disappointing for a game that we're talking about this now. But I had to come and talk about it because in my view, it impacted on the result," he said.
"Those things get factored in the result. In my view, we need to fix it up. Imagine if that was a grand final... well those two (referees) won't be there."