Cronulla's prospects for the 2019 NRL season have taken a massive hit, with the confirmation on Wednesday that coach Shane Flanagan has been deregistered by the governing body.

It means that the Sharks are without a head coach just a few months out from the start of the season, and will throw their plans into disarray.

Though the decision is provisional — and Flanagan has until the end of January to respond to the notice — it seems unlikely that the NRL will backtrack.

It's also a significant blow for Shaun Johnson.

Advertisement

The Kiwis halfback was recruited by Flanagan, but now will have to work under a new mentor.

Shaun Johnson. Photo / Getty
Shaun Johnson. Photo / Getty

The instability at the southern Sydney club comes at the worst time for Johnson, who has a considerable adjustment to make after almost a decade at the Warriors.

The NRL confirmed Flanagan's sanction on Wednesday, after an investigation into his dealings with the club during the 2014 season, when he was suspended due to his role in the peptides scandal.

One of the conditions of that suspension was that he would have no contact with the club, but an investigation found that numerous emails had been exhanged between Flanagan and club officials, including communication about recruitment of potential players.

Cronulla have also been fined $800,000 ($838,900) for their role in the breach.

The NRL emphasised the findings are preliminary and no final determination will be made until the response that Flanaghan provides has been properly considered, but also confirmed he will not be permitted to coach or act in any official capacity at the club pending a final determination.

Sydney media are speculating that current assistant coaches John Morris and Jim Dymock, as well as former Manly coach Trent Barrett are in the mix to replace Flanagan.