Reports last evening and earlier in the week have indicated that the NRL may be willing to soften its stand on Shane Flanagan, potentially allowing him to return to a head coaching role before his original ban expires.
The thinking is that the man who was insistent on the ban, Todd Greenberg, is no longer in the organisation, paving the way for an early return to a top job for the former Premiership winning coach.
The talk comes under news broke that under fire Dragons coach Paul McGregor seemingly has just two games to save his job at the helm of the club.
It would seem as though the Dragons have finally lost patience after multiple years of failures. McGregor looks at long odds to see out the season. Dragons fans were shocked when McGregor’s contract was extended fairly recently although it looked as though he had full support of the club’s decision makers.
This looks to have changed recently, with the former Sharks title-winning coach the obvious replacement, if he can have his coaching ban shortened.
If, and right now it seems a big if, everything falls into place and the Dragons are able to appoint Shane Flanagan as their head coach, I have this piece of advice for Dragons fans; strap in, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
There is nothing like supporting a club coached by Shane Flanagan!
Opinion is split almost right down the middle when you ask Shark fans of their thoughts of Flanagan’s reign.
The fact that even one person can have a negative thought re his time at the club after he broke the almost 50 year title drought in the Shire says it all.
October 2nd, 2016: The Sharks defeat Melbourne to lift their first ever trophy. Shane Flanagan stands on the stage like a proud father, clapping as each of his team are called up to accept their title-winning medal. He stands, arms raised as Paul Gallen lifts the trophy.
That should be the memory that defines the man for each and every fan of the black, white and blue, however it isn’t.
Don’t forget, either side of that amazing night came the almost literal demise of the club thanks in huge part to the actions of Shane Flanagan.
Now, straight up I want to say that to blame the Sharks woes purely on Flanagan would be ridiculous but as the first grade coach, he has to cop a lot of flack. That added to the fact that his actions almost cost the Sharks more than just competition points.
He oversaw the Peptide saga that threatened to see the club shut down, relocated or downright kicked out of the competition.
He responded to e-mails despite being suspended with very clear instruction.
He oversaw the salary cap rorting that almost saw the club stripped of the very premiership that otherwise should have defined his legacy.
In terms of PURE winning on field, Flanagan is the man you want. He lead the Sharks to a title. Non fans don’t know just how big that is. Jack Gibson, Ricky Stuart, John Lang Chris Anderson. All tried, all failed. This despite Premierships elsewhere.
Kimmorley. Peachy. ET. Rogers. Campbell. All names in teams who should have Premierships, but Sharks will Shark.
Flanagan saw that through. He built a winning culture based largely on an ‘us vs them’ mentality that gripped the Sharks. The entire tagline during the 2016 finals series was ‘why not us?’ based on doubts from the other side of Tom Ugly’s Bridge.
He built a defensive minded side that would drag you down and batter you into submission. Then he added Barba and Maloney whilst developing Bird and Holmes, meaning four attacking options with flair.
He could do that again at St George, I have no doubt. Honestly that core group wearing Red V right now is miles ahead of what Flanagan had during the majority of his run at local rivals Cronulla.
BUT … it comes at a cost.
Boring game plans. 8-6 wins in the pouring rain. Lots of penalties. You will tear your hair out, but you’ll win.
Then there’s the off-field stuff.
I’d like to think Flanno has learned his lesson, however can you honestly look me in the eye and guarantee there won’t be issues given his history.
He’s still currently suspended for ignoring NRL directions during a suspension. The Sharks are still handicapped by a salary cap penalty during deals he oversaw.
Then there are the press conferences. That stare. It’s awesome when he’s on your side but I wouldn’t want to bring him the wrong order at a restaurant and have those eyes locked in on me.
Fill disclosure I love Flanno. He delivered a title. No one else could do that! So what if he played outside the rules. All the good coaches push the limits.
The fact that he almost sunk the club either side of the title win almost adds to his legacy … except that it absolutely infuriates me every time I think of those reports linking us with closure.
Buckle up Dragons fans!!!