Cronulla Sharks deny report directors' phones seized in NRL Integrity Unit salary cap investigation

Shark alarm: Cronulla have denied directors' phones were seized as part of the NRL Integrity Unit's salary cap investigation. Picture: John Veage
Shark alarm: Cronulla have denied directors' phones were seized as part of the NRL Integrity Unit's salary cap investigation. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla have denied a NewsCorp report that the club’s directors have had their mobile phones seized as part of the NRL’s salary cap investigation relating to third-party player payments.

A Daily Telegraph article said some of the Sharks’ directors “reluctantly” handed over their phones to the NRL on Monday morning.

Fairfax Media revealed in August the NRL was probing a promised payment to ex-Shark Chris Heighington from 2015 worth as little as $50,000.

Sharks Football CEO Barry Russell uncovered the discrepancy during a governance review shortly after starting as Cronulla boss in February. The Sharks then self-reported the anomaly to the NRL in June.

Cronulla released a statement on Tuesday denying the allegations.

“Contrary to an article first published digitally by the Daily Telegraph on Monday evening, October 29, the National Rugby League Integrity Unit has not confiscated any mobile phones from Cronulla Sharks Directors as part of their salary cap investigation relating to third party player payments,” it read. 

“We continue to cooperate with the NRL Integrity Unit but due to the ongoing confidential nature of the investigation, we will not be making any further comment.”

In August, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan denied Cronulla cheated the salary cap and told critics to lay off their historic 2016 premiership. Flanagan claimed he had little knowledge of the exact details of Heighington's deal.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said at the time the Sharks’ alleged discrepancy was nowhere near the breaches racked up by Parramatta and Manly in recent years.

It is understood there is no time frame on the investigation and Cronulla are awaiting the results, believing they have completed their part of the investigation including interviews with the NRL Integrity Unit.

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