Drug talk over, Sharks good to go: Flanagan
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has revealed the extent of how drug rumours about star player Todd Carney affected the club but he’s confident they can win every remaining game and push hard for a place in the NRL top four.
Flanagan said he had no other choice but to knock it on the head after the Sharks were swamped by inquiries about alleged drug use that first surfaced in internet forums.
With the burden lifted, he now believes the resurgent Sharks are capable of building on their 45-4 thrashing of the Warriors and win every game on a tough road into the finals.
“The speculation has just gone on for too long,” Flanagan told AAP.
“There’ve been inquiries – phone inquiries and sponsor inquiries and the board of directors and all that stuff (have become involved).
“It’s got to affect him and I’m just sick of it from a coach’s point of view. And from an administration point of view were just sick of it and had to knock it on the head.”
Carney’s form has been down in recent weeks as he battled niggling injuries and the burden of rumours.
He broke those shackles with a brilliant two-try, 25-point performance against the Warriors in Auckland.
Flanagan said Carney has been tested by the Sharks and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) and rumours were 100 per cent incorrect.
The club says the rumours surfaced after Origin III and before Carney faced former club the Sydney Roosters on July 9.
“He’s going OK, he’s a tough kid but I just don’t think it’s fair,” Flanagan said.
“If it was any other player I’d be out there defending them as well.”
The fifth-placed Sharks face a desperate Newcastle next Monday and a win would cement their top eight position and keep them in the running to break into the all-important top four.
Flanagan expects regular starters Bryce Gibbs, Wade Graham and Ben Pomeroy back from injury following last week’s return of inspirational captain Paul Gallen.
“We’d like to think we can win all our games on the way home. I can’t see why not,” he said.
“It’s going to be hard and, not being arrogant, but if you want to play finals you’ve got to beat some of the better teams and we’re playing some of the better teams on the way home (Knights, Rabbitohs, Storm, Cowboys) so let’s have a crack at it.”© AAP 2013