Shane Flanagan admits sending the emails but says he was under the impression all player payments were above board.
Shane Flanagan admits sending the emails but says he was under the impression all player payments were above board.

Furious Flanagan denies knowing about cap rorts

Banned coach Shane Flanagan has furiously denied he is to blame for the salary cap scandal that has crippled the Cronulla Sharks.

In his first interview, Flanagan told The Daily Telegraph he had no knowledge of any unapproved third-party agreements that NRL integrity unit investigators found on the Sharks coach's email account.

Flanagan had his NRL registration cancelled indefinitely for breaching the conditions around his 2014 suspension from the Sharks' supplements saga.

"I'll cop my penalty for communicating with the club when I was under suspension," Flanagan said. "But I had nothing to do with the salary cap. Nothing whatsoever."

 

 

Shane Flanagan admits sending the emails but says he was under the impression all player payments were above board.
Shane Flanagan admits sending the emails but says he was under the impression all player payments were above board.

 

 

The NRL Integrity Unit uncovered breaches of the salary cap rules over a number of years dating back to 2013. A list of proposed payments to players outside the salary cap was uncovered during the investigation.

The Sunday Telegraph revealed almost $1 million of third-party agreements, including cash payments, were found on a spreadsheet on Flanagan's account.

Otherwise, it would have gone undetected.

 

 

Sharks captain Wade Graham headlines the list of players who received illegal payments. Josh Dugan, Luke Lewis, Jack Bird, Valentine Holmes, Chris Heighington and James Maloney were also named. There is no suggestion any players were aware of any wrongdoing.
Sharks captain Wade Graham headlines the list of players who received illegal payments. Josh Dugan, Luke Lewis, Jack Bird, Valentine Holmes, Chris Heighington and James Maloney were also named. There is no suggestion any players were aware of any wrongdoing.

 

 

"To my knowledge all the third parties were registered with the NRL," Flanagan said.

"I asked specifically each time a contract was done if were they NRL approved.

"I don't do contract negotiations and I wouldn't think any NRL coach would.

He gave an example on the signing of Aaron Woods last year from the Canterbury Bulldogs.

"I meet Woodsy, show him over the place and try to talk him into joining us," Flanagan said.

"If he's keen I'll then I will tell the recruitment and retention committee how much we should pay him. Next I hear of it is when I get an email saying 'Woods has agreed for three years'."

The names of Luke Lewis, Jack Bird, James Maloney, Valentine Holmes and current player Josh Dugan were among those on the spreadsheet

"How they structured those deals was not on my radar," Flanagan said. "My job was to coach the football team.

"Yes, of course I was on the recruitment and retention committees but I didn't actually do the deals.

"The only time I'm involved in third-party sponsorship discussions is when they ask 'can a player have time off for promotions or other activities'."

Flanagan said he sent the email from his private Bigpond account to his Sharks email because he was unaware of any improper payments

"Why would I try to hide it," he said. "Everything was above board as far as I knew."

In handing down Flanagan's suspension this month, the NRL said it would "consider any future request to come back to the game on its merits but he will not return in the short term".