Jul 18

Flanagan back for first day of training

Back in charge: Shane Flanagan back at Cronulla training on Monday. Photo: Dominic LorrimerLife after ASADA began for Cronulla on Monday as Shane Flanagan resumed normal order at the Sharks in his first day back in the top job after an 11-month suspension.

The NRL last week gave Flanagan the green light to regain control of the team after serving his ban over governance issues at the club during its 2011 supplements program. The two-year ordeal will finally put to bed on November 21 when Paul Gallen, Anthony Tupou, Wade Graham and Nathan Gardner return from their back-dated doping bans.

Monday’s first day of pre-season training under Flanagan at Remondis Stadium, and his new assistant – former Dragons coach Steve Price, is the first step in a long and lengthy road to recovery for the Sharks, who fell from finals contenders to wooden spooners in Flanagan’s absence.

Cronulla have been battered from pillar to post in the last two years in relation to the ASADA scandal as well as numerous other off-field indiscretions, losing star playmaker Todd Carney after a vulgar photo of him went viral last year. NSW representative Luke Lewis said the club was finally ready to move on from the energy-sapping scandal that has engulfed the Sharks since his arrival in 2013.

“At the end of the day it’s all over which is the best thing for all of us,” he said. “We’re coming into 2015, we’ve got some new guys coming in, we’ve got some old guys coming back, I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead for Cronulla.”

Price has kept a low profile since he was sacked by St George Illawarra midway through last season, but resumed his coaching career under Flanagan on Monday. “Steve is a great addition to our staff and I’m certainly looking forward to having him as my assistant coach and to working alongside him,” Flanagan said. “He was an NRL assistant for a long period before stepping up into a head coaching role and his experience and knowledge will be invaluable for us.

“Steve’s appointment complements the other staff changes, which has included the appointment of high performance coach Andrew Gray and a skilled training and medical staff.”

Price said he was looking forward to helping rebuild the long-suffering club still searching for its maiden premiership almost half a century on from their foundation. “I’m excited about the opportunity and to be working with Shane, his staff and the playing group here at the Sharks,” Price said. “Shane is looking to implement cultural change and I’m keen to be a part of that.”

Former Canterbury grand finalists Michael Ennis and Mitch Brown also reported in for first day duties at their new club, however the pair won’t be required to start training until the end of the month. “It’s a pretty special day coming down here and meeting all the players and having Shane back on board,” Ennis said. “It’s good, it took me 10 minutes to get here today, it’s a lot closer to home … I’ve played with Chris Heighington and Michael Gordon in the Country team and obviously Luke [Lewis] at State of Origin level. The boys have been really welcoming and I’m looking forward to a couple of good seasons here.”

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