It wasn’t supposed to end like this.
As the Sharks’ first ever premiership-winning coach, the man who ended a half-century wait for a title, Shane Flanagan was meant to leave Cronulla a hero.
Instead, he leaves with a feeling of what else might have been.
Flanagan and Cronulla issued a joint statement on Monday saying the historic 2016 premiership-winning coach had resigned as the club’s head coach.
The NRL deregistered Flanagan last month and fined the Sharks $800,000 after the governing body found he had breached the terms of his 12-month suspension in 2014 for his role in the club’s peptides scandal due to his communications with the club that year.
John Morris, who was an assistant coach under Flanagan, has since been named interim coach.
Flanagan has until the end of January to lodge his submission and said in the statement he would respond to the NRL’s notice.
Flanagan arrived at the club as an assistant coach in 2007. He was promoted to head coach towards the end of 2010.
The 2016 grand final triumph over Melbourne will remain his proudest moment. Flanagan was also named coach of Cronulla’s team of the half century.
Flanagan said the decision to resign was one of the toughest of his 36-year career in rugby league.
“The last month has taken an enormous mental and emotional toll on my family and myself,” he said.
“I intend on responding to the notice issued by the NRL, however I have made this decision in the best interests of the entire club and the players to allow the best possible preparation for the 2019 season without constant speculation and uncertainty as to who their head coach will be.
“I want to thank the Cronulla board and management, both past and present, as well as my dedicated coaching staff, all of whom I have worked closely with over seven seasons.
“I especially want to extend my gratitude to the many players who I have been fortunate to coach at Cronulla. Without doubt, I will hold the entire 2016 playing squad, staff, supporters and unforgettable achievement to deliver the club it's first premiership, forever in my heart.
“I want to single out and thank the incredibly loyal Sharks supporters for their on-going support and last but certainly not least, I want to thank rugby league fans in general for their overwhelming support and messages over the years and more so over the past month.”
Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta thanked Flanagan for his efforts during his time at the club which delivered Cronulla’s greatest ever achievement.
“Shane was our first premiership winning coach, he is the coach of our team of the half century and he has given exceptional service and dedication to our club,” he said.
“He worked tirelessly to build our team and our club into a competitive force and he will forever hold a special place in the club's history.”
Flanagan’s resignation now leaves Cronulla searching for a new head coach.
While Morris has been handed the job on an interim basis, the club will look to confirm a full-time coach before the start of the season.