Shane Flanagan Pulls Rank And Door Open For Ben Barba To Return To The NRL

Ten Eyewitness News chats with Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan over the Fifita selection chaos and Ben Barba's NRL future.

What you need to know
  • Coach Shane Flanagan chats with Michael Cain for Ten Eyewitness News.
  • Flanagan weighs in on the Fifita selection loophole for Origin.
  • Sharks leaving door open for Ben Barba to return to the club.

Cronulla Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has pulled rank over prop Andrew Fifita as Origin speculation continues, while leaving the door open for the disgraced Ben Barba to make his return to the NRL.

Flanagan spoke with Ten Eyewitness News on Monday, after the team's fifth win in a row against the Bulldogs in Round 11.

Fifita's Origin Future

Andrew Fifita was expected to face the media on Monday morning to answer the intense media speculation surrounding his Origin future, but the club stopped him from doing so.

Despite pledging his allegiance to Tonga at the beginning of the year, Fifita could make Brad Fitler's Blues squad on Sunday due to a loophole.

Andrew Fifita, State of Origin Man of the Match for Game 1, 2017. Image: Getty Images

Fifita would be eligible to play for Games 1 and 3 due to Tonga's status as a tier two country on the international scale. Should Tonga be elevated to tier one status, as Australia and New Zealand are, he would no longer be able to play for the Blues.

Flanagan said his main focus was the Sharks, and his job was to keep Fifita focused on playing for his club, and any representative honours came off the back of playing well week-in-week-out.

"If he ends up playing Origin and that's what he wants, then good luck to him, but I've got nothing to do with those decisions," he said.

Ben Barba Back To The NRL?

Flanagan also left the door open for the return of Ben Barba, who was sacked from the club after testing positive to cocaine in the week following his Premiership win with the Sharks.

Barba has been plying his trade for English Super League club St Helens, but Flanagan explains his contract enables him to come back 'home' to the Sharks.

And with Barba in form, the Sharks have been watching their former fullback closely.

"I think Benny has learn his lesson the hard way,  he had to pack his whole family up and move to England, and he made a terrible mistake, and players do that, everyone does," Flanagan said.