Sharks place Flanagan, Holmes contract talks on hold
After a brilliant NRL debut by Kyle Flanagan last weekend, Cronulla are putting contract extension talks with him in the same basket as Valentine Holmes and won't be revisiting them until season's end.
Flanagan turns 20 in the middle of the NRL finals and regardless of whether he's a part of the Sharks campaign or not, the club will be in the opposite position to that of the Cleary family - Ivan and Nathan.
While clubs are circling to put the Cleary father-and-son package together, rivals are also readying themselves to try to pull father Shane and son Kyle apart.
Sharks chief executive Barry Russell is aware of the skills set Flanagan jnr displayed at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday in the 38-12 win over the Knights. He is signed until the end of 2019.
"His debut was really exciting," Russell told NRL.com. "He's a young up-and-coming halfback and they're in demand.
"But he's a local junior so we'll be doing whatever we can to keep him here at the club.
"He's worked hard; he's fulfilled a life-long dream yesterday and I had the privilege of presenting him with his jersey. To see him go out and perform and be part of that win – that memory will be with him forever."
Russell knows that the form Holmes is displaying will have rival clubs chasing his signature.
"And Val will only get better," Russell said. "He's a fine, young 23-year-old man. He handles himself so well. He's been here for five years now and just broke David Peachey's try-scoring record [of 19] crossing for his 20th.
"That's a significant milestone in Val's career. And one for him to cherish.
"We love him, and he knows that, but his decision ultimately is not all about money. His family comes into that and we totally respect that."
Coach Flanagan is on the same page as Russell regarding Holmes, who has signed until 2020 although the final year is an option in his favour.
North Queensland are leading the charge for the man who has scored 14 tries in 11 Kangaroos appearances, with Johnathan Thurston urging the club to go all out for Holmes.
But while the Sharks remain aware of the fight for Holmes and the marquee money set to be tabled from November 1 when he officially comes off-contract, Cronulla's 2018 premiership tilt still takes priority over any wheeling and dealing.
"We won't be talking again with Val until after the season. That goes for all our players, there will be no contract negotiations from now until the end of the season," Flanagan told NRL.com.
"There's a couple of players who we're looking at for upgrades and extensions, but we'll put them on hold, our number one priority is winning footy games for the next month or so now.
"We'll deal with Val after the season, he's playing good footy, he's happy and he's here for another year so we'll come back to that one."
Flanagan said in the back-end of the 2016 season the Sharks did the same thing. "…and it worked for us," he said, referring to the club breaking its 50-year prdrought.
"You take that sort of stuff out of the equation in the last part of the season, you don't want to be worrying about contracts now. We've only got three or four spots to go so there's not too many for next year.
"We're already looking to 2020 with the upgrades and extensions for Val and Wade [Graham] and guys like that."
Hooker James Segeyaro is also off at the end of 2018, and Russell said the club wanted him to stay. Again, that is a conversation for October.
As for holding the Flanagans together - the coach is off contract at the same time as his son - Russell said he was yet to approach Shane.
"It's never been spoken about really. It's a challenge trying to coach your son but Shane has handled it very professionally, very well," Russell said.
"But any contract stuff we're parking it, to stay focused on the footy ahead."