Not many people could’ve escaped the fanfare surrounding the historic first NRL premiership win by the Cronulla Sharks in 2016.
One person who seemingly wasn’t too interested in the Shark’s fairytale story is new Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter Beattie.
Beattie may have swum with sharks during a publicity stunt when seeking re-election as Queenland premier in 2001 but it appears he is unable to identify the NRL side that plays out of the shire.
In an interview with Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould, Beattie couldn’t identify the shire’s pride and joy in an embarrassing faux pas.
The interview went like this:
"Before you're officially welcomed, you've got to answer one question," Gould said.
"The team that plays out of the Sutherland Shire — is it the Cronulla Hawks, the Cronulla Seagulls or the Cronulla Sharks?"
The new ARL chairman stumbled over his answer and seemed unable to identifyy the 2016 premiers.
"I'll be honest, I wouldn't have a bloody clue but I'll know next week," Beattie said.
"It's got to be Cronulla of some kind.
"It's too bloody hard Gus, that's too difficult."
Beattie, a former Queensland premier and self-described lifelong rugby league fan, apologised for the gaffe, putting it down to a case of nerves.
Beattie subsequently laughed off the incident as a case of not getting Gould's joke and pointed out he went into the Sharks' dressing sheds following Friday's loss to North Queensland in Townsville.
This was me Saturday night with the Sharks’ coach. Yes I stuffed up the answer; just nervous in front of the great Phil Gould. Yeah I’m human. I had a mental blank. The price of doing the NRL & the Commonwealth Games at the same time !! Thanks Gus for having me on the show. #nrlpic.twitter.com/L5RRSymslf— Peter Beattie (@SmartState1) March 12, 2018
He later made an apology of sorts to NRL fans in a Tweet: ‘‘Yes I stuffed up the answer; just nervous in front of the great Phil Gould. Yeah I’m human. I had a mental blank. The price of doing the NRL & the Commonwealth Games at the same time !! Thanks Gus for having me on the show. #nrl’’
It was reminiscent of an infamous incident in 2014 in which Beattie's predecessor John Grant misnamed the "Cronulla Hawks" and "Manly Seagulls" during a Kangaroos team announcement.
It will no doubt lead to some awkward moments for Beattie, who replaced Grant last month and is trying to win support among the clubs to make changes to the ARLC board.
When given a chance to clarify his response and pressed on whether he knew more than Grant, Beattie again fumbled his response.
"I'm aiming to be better but I'd never pretend to know what I don't know," Beattie said.
"Tell you what, you can take me down there one day and shout me lunch, you can educate me."
The episode has not been the first shark encounter for Mr Beattie, who famously dived with the animals as a publicity stunt when he was seeking re-election as premier in the 2001 campaign.