Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says the Sharks might have had a lucky escape by missing out on Daly Cherry-Evans, amid speculation the Test star may renege on his NRL move to Gold Coast.
The Sharks were in the hunt for the Manly playmaker, who met Flanagan and club officials in March, before announcing he would leave the Sea Eagles to sign for the Titans.
However, on Thursday, it emerged Cherry-Evans might be having second thoughts about making the move to southeast Queensland and – with contracts not valid for 2016 until round 13 – he’s within his rights to backflip on any agreement.
“I am not real keen on players backflipping if there is a deal there,” Flanagan said.
“I’d be really disappointed if it was us and we missed out on signing a really big player … I would have made sure our CEO had that contract watertight even though there is that window of opportunity.
“We might have dodged a bullet there, but there are things that go on at football clubs.
“I am sure Gold Coast fans will be disappointed and Manly fans will be cheering.”
Contract negotiations are also taking place between the Sharks and skipper Paul Gallen with the NSW captain’s representatives meeting chief executive Lyall Gorman on Thursday.
Gallen expressed fears earlier this week he would be squeezed out of the club with an agreement yet to be signed, but Flanagan insisted there was no way the 34-year-old would be allowed to leave.
“It’s work in progress. His management and our CEO met yesterday and, by all accounts, it went well,” Flanagan said.
“There’s been a lot of media speculation, but Paul Gallen will be here in 2016.”
The Sharks’ big money off-season signing Ben Barba insists he’s happy to be a bench player and claims he has no divine right to a place in the starting line-up.
Barba enjoyed his best game since his arrival from Brisbane last Friday against Newcastle with his first try after coming off the sidelines to help engineer a 22-6 win.
He’ll start in the No.14 shirt on Monday against South Sydney after recovering from a slight knee injury and says he’s just happy to be part of a winning team again having lost his first three games with the club.
“It was a bit different coming off the bench, but I enjoyed it … some of the bigger guys are a bit more tired and I can run around them,” he said.
“I am happy to play wherever is best for the team, whether that be off the bench, fullback or five-eighth.”