Sharks squad barred from Cronulla Sailing Club after pre-Christmas fracas

Sharks CEO Barry Russell: "We will take the appropriate action once the investigation is concluded." Picture: John Veage
Sharks CEO Barry Russell: "We will take the appropriate action once the investigation is concluded." Picture: John Veage

Cronulla Sharks players have allegedly been involved in an incident that led to the club’s entire squad being banned from a local nightspot.

The Sydney Morning Herald  is reporting that the players will front the board this week and police are investigating.

It is understood the Cronulla Sailing Club took the extraordinary step of telling the NRL club that their players are no longer welcome there.

The blacklisting comes after an altercation on the night of December 21 in which a series of scuffles are understood to have broken out across the venue involving lower-grade players, prompting police to be called.

The Sharks have been investigating the incident since before Christmas and are yet to determine whether to begin disciplinary proceedings with any players.

The action taken by the sailing club has led to speculation that the episode may have been more serious than a fracas involving lower-graders.

The Herald was told there were also first-grade players at the sailing club on the night who did not intervene.

Sharks chief executive Barry Russell said on Friday the club was treating it “very seriously”.

“I can confirm there was an incident, which is being investigated by the club. The club has informed the [NRL] integrity unit and is working with police with their investigation,” he said. “We will take the appropriate action once the investigation is concluded.”

Cronulla Sailing Club licensee Ken McKay, a former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner, was also tight-lipped about what transpired at his venue before Christmas.

Almost a full house at Cronulla Sailing Club's famous Friday night sessions. The Sharks incident is believed to have taken place on December 21 - also a Friday night. Picture: Facebook

Almost a full house at Cronulla Sailing Club's famous Friday night sessions. The Sharks incident is believed to have taken place on December 21 - also a Friday night. Picture: Facebook

“There will be no comment from the Cronulla Sailing Club as there is a current and ongoing investigation being conducted by the Licensing Police at Cronulla as well as an investigation being conducted by the CEO at the Sharks,” McKay said in a text message.

The banning of the whole playing group by a licensed venue is the latest episode in a tumultuous off-season for Cronulla.

The incident at the sailing club occurred two days after coach Shane Flanagan was deregistered and the Sharks were fined $800,000 by the NRL after the governing body found he had breached the terms of his 12-month suspension in 2014 with his communications with the club that year.

John Morris, who was an assistant coach under Flanagan, has since been named interim coach while Flanagan prepares a response to the claims against him. Flanagan has until the end of January to lodge his submission.

The club is also awaiting the outcome of an NRL salary cap investigation into the Sharks after Russell last year reported to head office potential breaches of the rules involving third-party deals.