RUGBY LEAGUE: Shane Flanagan's NRL coaching career appears over because of a damning trail of more than 50 emails unwittingly handed over by his own club.

Cronulla coach Flanagan was provisionally deregistered by the NRL on Wednesday for breaking strict rules by communicating with the club while suspended in 2014.

Cronulla have also been fined $800,000, with both the club and Flanagan having until the end of January to appeal their punishment.

Flanagan is unable to have any official involvement with the club in that period.

But is it a punishment that is truly fitting of the crime?

MOOSE ELKERTON: There's only one man to blame in this mess

HIS reputation is in tatters and his coaching career most likely over, and Shane Flanagan deserves every inch of it.

Not only did Flanagan blatantly flout the rules of his suspension in early 2014, but he directly lied to the NRL repeatedly about his involvement with the club.

It was bad enough that Flanagan was caught in the middle of the firestorm surrounding the Sharks initial ASADA scandal, which claimed the reputations of many good players, including our very own Luke Douglas, but then to go against the NRL's imposed sanctions speaks to the sheer level of arrogance in the man.

If it was maybe one or two emails, it would almost be forgivable.

But it is understood the NRL integrity unit has found upwards of 50 instances of direct communication between the coach and the club on a range of subjects from player recruitment to coaching structures.

While for many it may seem almost illogical that Flanagan has his contract torn up over a chin of emails while players continue to return to the game after breaking the law.

But it is a case of comparing apples with oranges.

The nature of this breach has direct ramifications on the integrity of the competition.

Player behaviour is no different to all of us, governed by judicial process, enforceable by law. Flanagan has broken rules governed directly by the NRL, hence the harsh penalty enforced by the NRL.

The Sharks are in turmoil, and there's one man to blame.


Cronulla Sutherland Sharks CEO Barry Russell and senior player Paul Gallen are joined by the senior players group as they address the media at Sharks Leagues Club.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks CEO Barry Russell and senior player Paul Gallen are joined by the senior players group as they address the media at Sharks Leagues Club. DEAN LEWINS/AAP PHOTO

JARRARD 'POTTSY' POTTER: Hard to rate his crime amongst others this off-season

THERE'S no doubt about it, the NRL is facing an assault on its reputation from all fronts during this brutal 2018 off- season.

I find it interesting the NRL has reserved its most severe penalty, the potential permanent removal of a premiership- winning coach, for Shane Flanagan, the Cronulla Shark coach who breached the strict terms of his suspension from the game in 2013 over the administration of illegal supplements in 2011 by remaining in contact with the Sharks during his sanction.

If we look at the big picture though, what does more harm and damage to the NRL as a game: one coach contacting his former club while being suspended, or the multiple allegations and charges of sexual or indecent assault and domestic violence?

By looking to deregister Flanagan indefinitely from the sport, the NRL is saying the rules and punishments they make are more important than the rules and punishments everyone else in society has to abide by, the NRL's laws have greater weight and value than the laws of society.

The excuse trotted out when someone has committed a crime is that rugby league can help rehabilitation and people are afforded a second chance.

So why then must Flanagan be rubbed out of the game forever?

The allegations of violence and assault over players is far more severe for the NRL, and the punishments for these serious offences should be the same.