After a disappointing finals exit at the hands of North Queensland, Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan couldn’t muster up too much excitement.
But when the dust settles he’ll know that 2015 was a year in which the Sharks could feel proud.
The club was in disarray in 2014, courting financial headaches, fending off rumours of relocation, reeling from the ASADA drugs scandal and the suspensions that came with it – including that of Flanagan.
It resulted in a wooden spoon finish and a bleak outlook for this year.
The 39-0 humbling wasn’t the way the club wanted to finish but a fifth place for the year was quite the result in the circumstances.
“In a couple of days time we will sit back and say it was a good season from where we come from,” Flanagan said.
“It still hurts tonight that we’ve lost any chance of moving forward.”
A big part of the club’s revival has come from its junior ranks.
The Sharks have unearthed a superstar of the future in Jack Bird, a teenage half already being talked about for State of Origin while Valentine Holmes has been electric in the outside backs.
Flanagan knows they will be better for the run in 2016.
“You hear a lot of noise from other clubs, that they’ve got young halves and young players in their team, we’ve got a 19-year-old in our halves and he just played in a semi-final series,” he said.
“He played every game this year and (the club) has been in the top six most of the year.
“Those players are going to learn a lot from that.
“Their age, the experience tonight, playing against players like Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott – it’s going to be money in the bank for them.”
Sharks captain Paul Gallen was equally unhappy with the result but also saw the positives.
“We developed players like Bird and Holmes, all them young guys, (Gerard) Beale,” Gallen said.
“They’re going to be a hell of a lot better for it next year.
“We’ve taken some big steps forward.
“But we were here to play a semi-final and we just can’t get away from the disappointment about the way we played.
The Sharks will have extra firepower in the halves in 2016 as well, with Roosters five-eighth James Maloney coming to the Shire and former Shark Chad Townsend returning home.
Three Sharks players may attract the attention of the NRL’s match review committee – Michael Ennis for a high shot on Kane Linnett, Jayson Bukuya for a lifting tackle on Gavin Cooper and Ricky Leutele who is on report for a high shot on Cowboys opposite Justin O’Neill.
Gallen, who left the stadium wearing a moon boot, also faces scans on an ankle injury that limited his involvement in the loss.