Sharks star Josh Dugan will not play in Friday night’s Elimination Final clash after failing to overcome a shoulder injury.
It is a big loss for Cronulla who are already without key forward Wade Graham for the rest of the season due to a ruptured ACL.
Dugan was reduced to tears at a media session on Tuesday after stating the public had misconstrued bad boy perception of him, opening up on the mental health demons he had faced.
“[I] wasn’t expecting it. [It’s] pretty delicate. We’ve sort of been working with Josh but we didn’t expect that,” Flanagan said.
“We’re dealing with him. It’s a delicate situation and we need to deal with it in the right manner. Not through the media. Maybe [Tuesday] was a good thing for Josh to get it off his chest… he’s been ok.
“The whole club has [rallied around him]. With all our players we’ve got to make sure they’re ok. Sometimes we think they’re big and strong but sometimes we need to look a little bit deeper.”
Flanagan urged fans to be be respectful of Dugan.
“Josh, we’ve all said, has made his mistakes,” he said.
“He’s got to stand up to those. He’s a young man that is trying to do his best and is working hard behind the scenes and we’ll continue to work hard with him.”