Cronulla mentor Shane Flanagan has admitted he feared being sacked by the Sharks after the club’s horror start to the NRL season.
After a 0-4 start to the year and with games against premiership favourites Sydney Roosters, then-premiership front-runners Newcastle and premiers Souths Sydney to come, Flanagan thought his tenure at the club might come to a premature end.
However, the Sharks bounced back to win three straight and with a month left of the regular season are within striking distance of a top-four berth for the first time since 2008.
While Manly’s Geoff Toovey and Newcastle’s Rick Stone have been shown the door, Flanagan has powered on.
“Looking back we were 0-4 and we had the Roosters, Newcastle and Souths and Newcastle at that stage had won four on the trot so I was planning some holidays about June or July if we didn’t win those couple,” Flanagan said on Friday.
“But we didn’t panic, the senior players in the squad stuck solid, we went out and won a few in a row and got ourselves back to where we thought we should be.
“We haven’t over achieved to where we are now, we have just achieved what we expected, the next month will be determine our season.”
Cronulla can consolidate fifth spot on the NRL ladder with a win over sixth-placed Melbourne at Remondis Stadium on Monday.
Flanagan is confident the big-game experience in his playing group will help over the final month of the NRL premiership rounds and into the final series.
“The age of our squad, some people have criticised that, but it actually will hold us in good stead this last month if there is a bit of noise, that we are going to play finals,” Flanagan said.
“I think barring Birdy (Jack Bird) and Valentine Holmes everyone has played semi-finals, and they should be able to hand that situation. Nothing rattles Jack too much he is a cool customer and Val, he just follows in his footsteps.
“They are fine, they have some good leaders around them, there is a big month ahead of us.”