Being branded a cleanskin and a player every mother would love may not be the most flattering of compliments for an NRL forward.
But that’s how Sharks veteran Chris Heighington was described by his coach after being involved in a dangerous tackle at Penrith on Sunday.
Heighington and Sharks hooker Michael Ennis were both placed on report after Panthers forward Jeremy Latimore appeared to be driven into the ground head first after they lifted him off his feet in the first half at Pepper Stadium.
Of the two, Heighington may have more cause to be worried, though Latimore was able to keep playing after receiving treatment out on the ground.
“It didn’t look good, but Chris Heighington has played 250 first grade games,” Flanagan said.
“It’s a contact sport and he’s a cleanskin, his record is perfect.
“We’ll have a look at it tomorrow, but Chris is one of those players that every mother would love to have.
“He’s not dirty, he’s a clean player. If the tackle’s gone wrong we’ll look at it tomorrow.”
His Panthers counterpart Ivan Cleary didn’t feel the tackle merited a send off, though he said he was initially a bit worried as Latimore wasn’t normally a player who stayed down after getting a knock.
“I’m not against send offs, but I think it’s got to be something that’s quite obvious,” Cleary said.
“I think it was just one of those ones that just went wrong.
“It looked a bit ugly. I don’t think it was a send off.”
Both Cleary and Flanagan wanted improvement from their respective clubs after next weekend’s break for the representative games.
Penrith climbed to eighth with a win that gives them a 4-4 record, which Cleary wasn’t upset about given their lengthy injury list.
“I’m really happy with that because you don’t want to drift too far out, but we understand we have to get better,” Cleary said.
Flanagan emphasised the importance of Cronulla going on another winning streak after their first loss in four games dropped them to 14th, though only two points behind Penrith.
“If we’re going to play semi-final football we need to go on these three, four, five match winning streaks,” Flanagan said.