Peter V'landys has confirmed the ARL Commission would consider ending Shane Flanagan's head coaching ban early if an NRL position becomes available late in 2021.
Flanagan has been in dialogue with V'landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo about his future as he serves the final year of a suspension due to expire on November 1, the start of the 2022 rugby league financial year.
The former Sharks coach is yet to make an application for an early end to his ban, and won't do so until it is clear a head coaching position is up for grabs.
V'landys said on Thursday that an application "late in the year" could be looked upon favourably by the ARLC, adding that he believes "Flanagan has served his penalty" since being de-registered in September 2019.
"What we’ve done at the NRL is we’ve stayed flexible and we’re always going to be flexible, we always look at things on its criteria and at the time," V'landys said at a lunch for the Ricky Stuart Foundation in Canberra.
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"If Shane Flanagan was to make an application at some point we would look at it and give him due process and natural justice, especially if it was late in his penalty, if it was late in the year and there was probably a month to go, well we may be a bit lenient and allow him to take up that position and not rob him of that opportunity.
"I think Shane Flanagan has served his penalty, he’s been very good in serving the penalty.
"I’ll let other people judge his calibre of coach and his ability of coach but I think his record speaks for itself, he has won a premiership, there’s not many that can say that they’re a premiership-winning coach."
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Flanagan has been linked to Parramatta - a suggestion quickly dismissed by CEO Jim Sarantinos - and his former Cronulla role in the past month, adding further conjecture to the future of his replacement John Morris.
He was deregistered by the NRL after he was found to have been in communication with Sharks officials throughout 2014 as he served a previous one-year ban stemming from the club's peptide scandal.
Morris comes off contract in 2021 and his management had a move to extend his deal last year knocked back by Cronulla officials.
The rookie coach has guided the Sharks to two finals appearances in as many campaigns despite being hamstrung by salary cap penalties and Bronson Xerri's performance-enhancing drug ban.
Next season looms as the first since he took over that the Sharks can make a serious dent in the player market.
The likes of Matt Moylan, Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan all come off contract this year while Cameron McInnes's poaching from St George Illawarra ranks as the first significant signing made under Morris's tenure.
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Speaking on SEN Radio on Thursday, Flanagan said he would approach the NRL about an early end to his ban if a job becomes available, but is yet to cross that bridge.
"I’ve had regular contact with Peter V’landys and Andrew Abdo, but there’s been no application for me to come back early," he said.
"I want to coach in the NRL again, but there’s no jobs available. If one does come up then I’ll deal with it then. I can coach like I did [as an assistant] at the Dragons.
"But there’s no NRL coaching jobs available.
"NRL coaching is hard enough without all the speculation.
"There were five coaches change last year, there could be some this year but for me, I just need to get my head down."
I think Shane Flanagan has served his penalty, he’s been very good in serving the penaltyARLC chairman Peter V'landys
Flanagan added that he has had no contact with Cronulla and that he believes Morris has the club's backing.
"NRL coaching is hard enough. I live in the Shire and before a ball has been kicked, there’s speculation about it,” Flanagan said.
"I understand it, the club has won one competition and I was the coach then. I’m not employed at the moment. I can see where the parallel comes from and where they put the jigsaw together.
"For John, it is unfair. He’s got a year to prove himself and he will get another contract.
"There’s been no contact with the Sharks, I see a lot of those people around the traps. They’re behind John and so are the players."