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NRL to investigate Sharks account claim

NRL boss Dave Smith has asked the league's integrity unit to investigate claims of a "high performance unit" bank account operated by Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan.
NRL to investigate Sharks account claim
by AAP

SYDNEY, Aug 21 AAP - NRL boss Dave Smith has asked the league's integrity unit to investigate claims of a "high performance unit" bank account operated by Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan.

The ABC's 7.30 program on Tuesday raised allegations of the account being operated off the NRL club's books.

Flanagan has reportedly said the account was used to buy gym equipment - with money raised through functions and golf days - because the football department was not funded well enough to be competitive.

Smith said on Wednesday he had spoken to NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle, who oversees the integrity unit, as well as Sharks CEO Steve Noyce and new club chairman Damien Keogh about the issue.

"I don't know the details of the account," Smith told reporters in Sydney.

"What we need to do is have a good look at what actually has happened, have a look at - if the account existed - what it was used for, and all the things you'd expect the investigation team to do.

"We'll put the integrity unit onto that, to have a look at what those allegations are and we'll see what we get."

Smith added that allegations that Sharks captain Paul Gallen had received third-party payments from a security company was not new information, saying the club had already been fined $150,000 for the salary cap breach.

The ABC report has raised speculation about whether a private account could have been used to pay for sports scientist Stephen Dank's services and supplements used during the period of the 2011 season being investigated by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.

Flanagan has denied that was the case and the Daily Telegraph reported the account was only opened a year after Dank parted from the club.

The newspaper reported it was the second private account used at the club in recent years, with another used to fund team camps and equipment in 2009 by former coach Ricky Stuart.

Dank declined to shed any light on how, or whether, he was paid for his work at Cronulla.

Asked on Wednesday if he was paid off the books he told the Nine Network: "Mate, you might want to direct that one to the accountants about that one."

Flanagan said the account he operated was shut down at the direction of former club CEO Bruno Cullen, who arrived earlier this year at the NRL's request as the ASADA investigation was getting underway.

Appearing on the 7.30 program, Cullen denied knowing of the account, saying: "You just don't do things that way, no."

"Every dollar that comes into the club, and therefore every dollar that goes out of the club, should going through the club's central account and be recorded and accounted for."




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