Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen was crowned Monty Porter medallist for player of the year at the club presentation night on Monday night with coach Shane Flanagan issuing an apology to the code hours before the event.
Gallen relished retirement from representative football to play in every club game in 2017 – the most he's played in a season since 2005.
The Sharks veteran was also awarded the players' player after averaging 183 metres per game – including a season-high 303 against the Knights.
It was the fifth time the former NSW captain had taken out the top award in his 17-year career in the Shire.
"I've been able to win it a few times over the years but this one is pretty special, especially after what we did last year," Gallen said.
"I've made it a real focus of mine to show the players, the fans, the club that I wasn't satisfied with what we did last year. I wanted to put my best foot forward this season to try to win it again."
Meanwhile, Flanagan wrote a letter to the public offering an apology to the game after comments made following the Sharks' loss to the Cowboys resulted in a heavy $30,000 fine.
"My answers in that press conference were born out of honesty and the disappointment of a shattered dressing room," he wrote.
"Again, if only I had a camera in our dressing room after that loss. I promise you that cold silence of defeat will drive us over summer.
"And so I guess, I took all that emotion into that press conference. I know that doesn't make it right though, does it.
"In 157 games as head coach of Cronulla, I've never been hit with a breach notice by the NRL for disrespecting our referees.
"Our club prides itself on working extremely hard in all areas of rugby league, including grassroots and particularly with match officials.
"I would like to think one of the major reasons why our club was named club champions this year, was because of the decision by our club several years ago to invest in grassroots.
"What I need to do is learn from my mistake to ensure it doesn't happen again.
"That's interesting that line actually – learn, so it doesn't happen again," the letter from Flanagan continued.
"That sentiment will be critical for our club in 2018. We need to be smarter and more disciplined than ever before."