Shane Flanagan has resigned as Cronulla coach. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Shane Flanagan has resigned as Cronulla coach. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

Flanagan quits as Cronulla coach

CRONULLA will begin the search for a new head coach with Shane Flanagan formally resigning from the role ahead of the 2019 season.

After seven seasons, which included guiding the club to it's first premiership, Flanagan has described the decision to sever ties with the Sharks "as the toughest of his 36-year rugby league career", but in the best interests of the club.

The decision marks the end of Cronulla's most successful era with club management now in a position to appoint a new full-time coach for 2019 and beyond.

Flanagan's decision comes in the wake of an NRL suspension for alleged communication with the club during a period of being stood down by the code in 2014.

He has until January 31 to respond to the NRL's findings.

Flanagan has stood down as Cronulla coach. AAP Image/Brendan Esposito.
Flanagan has stood down as Cronulla coach. AAP Image/Brendan Esposito.

"This was obviously one of the toughest decisions of my 36-year rugby league career to resign from the head coaching role at Cronulla,'' Flanagan said in a press statement.

"The last month has taken an enormous mental and emotional toll on my family and myself.

"I intend on responding to the notice issued by the NRL.

"However I have made this decision in the best interests of the entire club and the players to allow the best possible preparation for the 2019 season without constant speculation and uncertainty as to who their head coach will be.

"I want to thank the Cronulla board and management, both past and present, as well as my dedicated coaching staff, all of whom I have worked closely with over the past seven seasons.

"I especially want to extend my gratitude to the many players who I have been fortunate to coach at Cronulla.

Flanagan coached the Sharks to their first premiership. Picture by Brett Costello.
Flanagan coached the Sharks to their first premiership. Picture by Brett Costello.

"Without doubt, I will hold the entire 2016 playing squad, staff, supporters and unforgettable achievement to deliver the club it's first premiership, forever in my heart.

"I want to single out and thank the incredibly loyal Sharks supporters for their ongoing support and last but certainly not least, I want to thank rugby league fans in general for their overwhelming support and messages over the years and more so over the past month."

As a result of Flanagan's suspension prior to Christmas, former assistant coach John Morris had been appointed caretaker coach and will be one of the leading candidates to take over as the club's new head coach.

However, it's anticipated the club will also begin interviewing candidates from both locally and overseas.

Flanagan was contracted to the Sharks until the end of 2019.

Flanagan is the most successful coach in Cronulla history. Picture by Damian Shaw.
Flanagan is the most successful coach in Cronulla history. Picture by Damian Shaw.

"Shane was our first premiership-winning coach, he is the coach of our Team of the Half Century and he has given exceptional service and dedication to our club,'' Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta said.

"He worked tirelessly to build our team and our club into a competitive force and he will forever hold a special place in the club's history.

"Arriving at the Sharks as an assistant coach in 2007, Flanagan was given the head coaching role towards the back end of the 2010 season.

"He would go on to coach the Sharks NRL team in 185 games, qualifying for the finals on six occasions, with the highlight the club's grand final victory of 2016.

"While disappointed his tenure at the Sharks will come to an end, Flanagan can look back with pride on some outstanding achievements during his time at the helm.''

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