Questions have been raised over Cronulla’s premiership winning team. (Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Questions have been raised over Cronulla’s premiership winning team. (Pic: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Hooper: Shark at centre of salary cap probe played in GF win

CRONULLA head coach Shane Flanagan, former chairman Damian Keogh and former CEO Lyall Gorman will be called to front the NRL to explain their roles at the club when alleged salary cap breaches took place.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting the club officials will be asked to give evidence to the NRL's integrity unit to determine the depth of potential breaches, with irregularities found in the 2015 and 2017 books.

Sharks CEO Barry Russell, who self-reported the irregularities to kickstart the investigation three months ago, yesterday confirmed the player in question is no longer at the club.

However, Fox Sports' chief reporter James Hooper is reporting the player who received the irregular payment in 2015 was also at the club in 2016 and played in the grand final.

"This is the NRL's worst nightmare," Hooper said.

"A salary cap scandal a week out from September, the biggest games of the year are coming up. A club who are under a cloud are going to feature in September and are a damn good chance of winning the competition.

"On top of that, they won the competition in 2016, which must now have question marks around whether that premiership side was above board in terms of the salary cap."

"The player that they initially reported the irregularity about is no longer at the club. I can tell you, the player they identified the irregularity around was part of the 2016 premiership winning team, he did the lap of honour with the Sharks after they won the competition.

"I'm not saying that means they're going to strip them of the premiership trophy like the Melbourne Storm, but it does pose the question. How big was the rort?"

Although NRL CEO Todd Greenberg yesterday said the Sharks are cap compliant for the 2018 season, NRL 360 host Paul Kent said question marks have been raised over the extent of the breaches

"That's a meaningless statement. 'On the information available to us', he prefaced it with," Kent said on Wednesday night.

"He said all 16 clubs are cap compliant, so what he's basically done, the NRL has come in and done their audit, which has not caught anyone, ever.

"It's the same process that had already determined that they were cap compliant in 2015, which we now know to be false, and which determined them to be cap compliant in 2017, which we now know to be false. It's now found them to be cap compliant in 2018."

It has also cast doubt over the Sharks' maiden premiership in 2016.