Premiership-winning coach Shane Flanagan has given a brutal assessment of the form of his son, Bulldogs playmaker Kyle, after making a public pitch for the vacant coaching role at the club.
Flanagan included Kyle in saying ‘a lot of the players at the Bulldogs aren’t playing well at the moment’ after the team’s abysmal 2-9 start to the NRL season during an appearance on the Fox League Podcast.
Trent Barrett fell on his sword and resigned last week after the horror start.
‘What’s happened over the last 12 or 18 months hasn’t been great for Kyle,’ said Flanagan about his son.
‘And that’s criticising no one, it’s just the circumstances that he was in. He didn’t play half of last year and didn’t get the start this year and he lost a lot of his confidence.’
Flanagan, who coached Cronulla to the title in 2016. deflected the criticism from his son, telling the Fox League Podcast there are several contributing factors to why his game hasn’t gone to another level at Belmore.
The 23-year-old halfback played under his father at the Cronulla Sharks but his stock has continued to fall at the Bulldogs since leaving the Roosters and signing ahead of the 2021 season, despite being tipped to stage a career revival under Barrett.
Bulldogs half Kyle Flanagan has been under the pump throughout his two seasons at the club
Kyle has only played four games in a sub-par side this season, but Flanagan said the Bulldogs didn’t have the ideal attacking structure for Kyle to flourish in.
‘He’s a lot better football player than he’s shown now. He’s was always one of those elite kids coming through the grades. A prolific point scorer, tries and goals,’ he told the podcast.
‘He’s got some holes in his game without a doubt that he needs to work hard on, I’m just not sure he’s getting that at training at the moment.
‘There’s more bigger picture stuff happening there.’
Shane Flanagan is currently a list management consultant for the Dragons
After spending two years in the top-grade at Shark Park, Kyle signed a two-year contract with the Roosters to replace Cooper Cronk ahead of the 2020 season. They were extraordinarily big shoes to fill – too big, given he was later let go.
He fell out of favour with the club after just one year, with young stars Lachlan Lam and Sam Walker rising ahead of him in the pecking order, before signing with Canterbury for three years.
Flanagan was keen to point out he tried to steer well clear of judging or commenting on the Roosters coaching and playing set-up.
‘I was disappointed when he got dropped because there wasn’t a lot of reason behind it but I’ve always stayed out of trying to coach Kyle and give him tips on how he’s going to play,’ he said on the podcast.
‘I’d say whether he played poorly or good in my view, but I never coached him during the week. Robbo (Trent Robinson) is a fantastic coach and they had Cooper (Cronk) there and I’m sure he was getting ample information, so I just stayed out of it.’
Kyle Flanagan, originally anointed as Cooper Cronk’s heir, played just one season for the Roosters
Kyle played 20 games for the Roosters in 2020, averaging 257 kicking metres and 0.55 try assists per game. In seven games for the Bulldogs this season, he’s averaging just 81 kick metres and 0.42 try assists a match.
Flanagan’s brutally honest reflections on Kyle and the Bulldogs come on the back of him very publicly declaring his interest in the vacant coaching role.
Mick Potter is currently filling the job on an interim basis, but the former Tigers coach says he has no interest in coaching the Dogs in the long run.
Flanagan was banned for 12 months in 2013 for his role in the supplements scandal that engulfed Cronulla.
Instead of being banned for life, Flanagan ended up signing a new deal with the Sharks and winning the premiership in 2016, before his life came crashing down two years later.
Shane Flanagan faced two separate bans during his time at the Cronulla Sharks, though he is now eligible to be a head coach again
He was found to have contacted the club over 50 times in 2014, when expressly banned from doing so as part of the terms of his suspension.
The NRL de-registered him indefinitely, though he was allowed to return as an assistant coach from 2020. He’s theoretically been eligible to be a head coach again from November 1, 2021, and comes up in discussions every time the media debates a coaching position.
For his part, Flanagan said he hasn’t talked to the club yet – but it is clear he is very keen on the job.
‘I haven’t had any chats with the Bulldogs and I’ve got no idea what their plans are,’ he told Sydney radio station 2GB on Saturday.
‘I’d love to (coach the Bulldogs), I want to get back into coaching at NRL level. I think I could do a job there. At this point there’s been no contact.’