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New Sharks chief executive Barry Russell.

Barry Russell finishes up as CEO at Cronulla on Monday but as a perpetual member he will still be at every home game, he's still on the Old Boys Committee and he's bought a unit in the latest residential block under construction on Sharks land adjacent to their home ground.

After a tumultuous 14 months as chief executive, which Russell doesn't want to dissect any more, he is leaving the post in the best possible condition for the new boss.

"I can move on and someone comes in with a fresh start, no baggage to deal with, and can take the business forward," he told NRL.com.

He was appointed in March 2018 and hoped to stay in the job 10 years. Instead he is finishing up after barely a year but he has no regrets.

Russell is writing a personal note to Sharks fans on the club's website, but has no input into who the new CEO will be and when they will begin work.

Sharks chairman Dino Mezzatesta and the board will make the final selection, which is thought to be imminent.

Whoever it is, they will walk into a club which has had the cleaners put through it, so to speak.

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Russell declined to comment on his relationship with former head coach Shane Flanagan, or how he unwittingly revealed a $700,000 salary cap breach by self-reporting a $50,000 indiscretion in third-party payments to players.

"It's been dissected enough already," was all Russell would say on his departure day.

His honesty brought a hefty fine for the club and a $350,000 salary cap penalty for 2019 and 2020.

But Russell said although the repercussions of his actions would have divided the club – "Some people love me, others probably hate me" – he would do it all again because the end result is what's best for Cronulla.

"For me it's been a great honour and privilege to lead the club. I know how much this club means to the fans, the members, the players, the staff.

"With that comes a big responsibility. I want the club to be here for the next 50, 100 years.

"I leave satisfied that there are no more skeletons in the cupboard, that the club is 'clean' if you like, it's got best-practice governance, some major sponsors on our jersey, we're in good financial shape with where the [neighbouring] development is at.

"That makes me happy. It's a clean start for the next person."

Barry Russell during his playing days for Cronulla Sharks.
Barry Russell during his playing days for Cronulla Sharks. ©NRL Photos

He will take two or three months off "to let the dust settle, clear my head".

He doesn't know if he will take up the CEO role at another NRL club, or be involved in the administration of the game again.

"I don't think that far ahead and I'm not one to make predictions. But I've also been taught 'Never say never' so you look at every opportunity and you're prepared to have a chat.

"I'll freshen up and then look to see what's out there in corporate land or rugby league.

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"One thing I will say is that everything I have in my life is because of the game. So I owe rugby league a hell of a lot. And I owe this club a hell of a lot so I want to give to the club in any way I can because I want us to be successful."

One way Russell has already done that is by securing some help for the 4000 juniors across 14 clubs in the club's catchment.

For every casual ticket sale at Sharks home games, $1 goes into a junior league equipment fund. The home game against the Titans in round two put $5000 into that fund.

The money gets split between the 14 clubs so they can go to Hart Sport – gear manufacturers - and buy tackle pads, balls, training aids, even water bottles.

Its estimated between $50,000-$60,000 will be raised.

"For me that is part of my legacy and it helps all the young boys and girls in the Shire playing our game," Russell said.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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