Sport Rugby League NRL Finals 2017: ‘I owe you an apology’: Flanagan sorry for attack on NRL referees
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NRL Finals 2017: ‘I owe you an apology’: Flanagan sorry for attack on NRL referees

Shane Flanagan
Shane Flanagan issued a letter on the Sharks website apologising for his behaviour. Photo: AAP
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Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has apologised just over a week after his scathing criticism of match officials following the Sharks’ exit from the NRL finals.

A day before a response is due from the club for a $30,000 breach notice over Flanagan’s comments, the premiership-winning coach admitted he had erred in attacking the referees after his side’s extra-time elimination final loss to North Queensland.

In an 1100-word letter to Sharks fans posted on Cronulla’s website on Monday, Flanagan first expressed his disappointment over the team’s exit before turning his attention to his post-match behaviour.

“I owe you an apology. I owe the game an apology. I’m sorry for the way I reacted,” Flanagan wrote to fans.

“My answers in that press conference were born (sic) out of honesty and the disappointment of a shattered dressing room.

“I took all that emotion into that press conference. I know that doesn’t make it right though.”

The letter comes a week after NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg told the game to “grow up” following Flanagan and Manly coach Trent Barrett’s attacks on match officials in the first week of the finals.

The Sharks’ fine was the heftiest in more than a year against a coach after Flanagan also blamed poor crowds on officials as he read a list of perceived referee errors.

He then made similar comments to the Sharks’ website the following day.

It’s understood Cronulla has sought legal advice in preparing its response to the NRL, which is due to be submitted by the end of Tuesday.

“In 157 games as head coach of Cronulla, I’ve never been hit with a breach notice by the NRL for disrespecting our referees,” Flanagan wrote.

“What I need to do is learn from my mistake to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Flanagan also admitted in the letter his side’s performance had contributed to the loss to the Cowboys – something he hadn’t done in the press conference.

“In 2017, we were nowhere near the standard required to be challenging for this year’s premiership,” he wrote.

“In the end, that’s what cruelled us against the Cowboys.

“Our discipline and errors – particularly in possession – wasn’t good enough and in the biggest game of the season, we were found wanting.”

Meanwhile it’s understood Manly is also yet to send through its finalised response to the league over Barrett’s comments, for which he was provisionally fined $20,000.

-AAP