NRL: Cronulla chairman vows club will survive

Damian Irvine has quit his post as chairman of embattled Cronulla amid the anti-doping investigation centred on the NRL club. Photo / Getty Images.
Damian Irvine has quit his post as chairman of embattled Cronulla amid the anti-doping investigation centred on the NRL club. Photo / Getty Images.

Newly-installed Cronulla chairman Glenn Coleman has vowed the embattled NRL club will survive the drug scandal that has left the Sharks in turmoil.

Local property developer Coleman, who played 123 games for the club between 1986 and 1994, took over on Tuesday night after Damian Irvine quit following a heated board meeting following comments he made to a Sunday newspaper.

Irvine had been at the centre of controversy since claiming in a Sunday newspaper interview that Sharks players had been injected with ``equine substances''.

The comments came just 48 hours after the club stood down coach Shane Flanagan and axed four members of his backroom staff including football manager Darren Mooney and long-standing team doctor David Givney.

Coleman said the board maintained the decision was the correct one, and the welfare of the 14 players caught up in the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation was now of paramount importance to the club's powerbrokers.

"The board made some decisions last week which we stand by and our energy now is on the interests of the playing group,'' Coleman said.

"Our energy and focus now has to be in assisting our players tangled up with ASADA.''

Coleman refused to be drawn on the weekend comments made by Irvine, who also claimed those stood down or sacked had knowledge of illegal practices for some time but did not inform the board.

But he said a decision whether to reinstate Flanagan, who has the backing of the players, would be taken soon.

"We have a review in place at the moment which we will want to get through as quickly as possible,'' he said.

"I am worried about our players. We have a lot who are affected by this. We need to support them 100 per cent.

"But we can definitely survive, the club has a bright future.''

Irvine's explosive interview comments, made by phone en route home to Australia from an overseas trip, put him at odds with both the rest of the club's board and the playing group.

He conceded on Wednesday when he announced his resignation that he shouldn't have made those comments.

"I don't think it did (help). And I'm honest it's been a period of time of extreme pressure and strain for a lot of people,'' Irvine said.

"That conversation I had I won't back away from it. But it wasn't an interview in a calm situation.

"It was a middle of the night conversation after quite a bit of badgering. It wasn't sensible to make those comments and I'll take responsibility for those.''

He also refused to say on Wednesday if he still stood by the claims.

-AAP

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