Cronulla boss Lyall Gorman has been forced to defend the NRL club’s handling of the Andrew Fifita affair.
The NRL integrity unit continues to investigate Fifita’s messages of support for convicted killer Kieran Loveridge amid claims the Sharks are stalling on the investigation until after the season is over.
The loss of Fifita would be a significant blow to the Sharks premiership hopes.
But in speaking on Triple M on Sunday, Sharks CEO Gorman denied that was the club’s primary motivation.
“We are not trying to keep him on the field,” Gorman said.
“We have talked to the integrity unit. I would have spoken to (investigator) Karen (Murphy) four or five times this week trying to bring it to a conclusion.
“They say they are not in a position to do so and I will continue to work with them until they are.”
Gorman said the Sharks showed last year they were not afraid to discipline players when Fifita was stood down for six matches and fined $30,000 for abusing a junior referee.
“Our club will never hide from anything, you have seen us take action in the past,” he said.
“We have assessed it as it is. We have made our judgments at the moment.
“It is nothing to do with keeping any player on the field.”
“If there was a reason for a player to be stood down we would stand them down.”
Gorman claimed the Sharks had kept a low profile in their investigations because of its impact upon the Kelly family.
Loveridge is serving a 10 year prison sentence for the coward punch manslaughter of Thomas Kelly.
“It has been a very hard one, probably the hardest one I have ever had to manage because of the Kelly family,” Gorman said.
“My heart bleeds for them. I have been in a not dissimilar situation in my own personal life.
“One of the reasons we haven’t given it a lot of air time is out respect to them (the Kelly family).
“It has been a gross error of judgement obviously from Andrew.”