Now four days after the Cronulla Sharks’ 2015 campaign came to an end, the playing group and staff are coming to terms with what was an otherwise disappointing way to bow out of the NRL finals series.
But not to discredit the work and effort of his squad across the campaign, Sharks Head Coach Shane Flanagan said he is proud of the side and the resilience they had shown throughout all of the season.
“They probably didn’t deserve that finish (to the season), the players. They’ve worked really hard all year,” Flanagan said. “I didn’t think we deserved that (result v Cowboys).”
Returning to the helm after a year out of the Coach’s chair, Flanagan said the senior playing group at the Club lead from the front for large parts of the season – and rose to the occasion when the side needed it most.
“They’ve been outstanding, especially our leaders. Gal (Paul Gallen), Michael Ennis, Wade (Graham),” he said.
“We were zero and four, and I’ve said plenty of times that we had to play the Roosters (in Round 5), South Sydney (in Round 7) and Newcastle (in Round 6) who hadn’t lost a game at that stage. I think we only lost four or five games from that point onwards.”
In a season that saw the emergence of young talents Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes, as well as the reinvigoration of some ‘older heads’ in Chris Heighington and Sam Tagataese, the Coach said the Sharks would learn from their finals exit and use it as motivation to achieve bigger things in 2016.
“It’s been a really good year for the Club, from where we’ve come from – it’s not the finish we wanted or needed ... but we learn a valuable lesson."