Penn family doesn’t have numbers to oust Manly Sea Eagles chief executive Tim Cleary

Even if he loses a power struggle with Bob Fulton, Manly chief executive Tim Cleary won’t be getting sacked any time soon.

It appeared there wouldn’t be enough room for the pair at Brookvale after Cleary sacked Fulton’s daughter Kristie, although the Sea Eagles powerbrokers apparently buried the hatchet at a crisis meeting on Thursday.


Even if tensions break out again and Cleary falls out of favour, the Penn family, the club’s majority owners, won’t have the numbers to sack the former school principal.

Under the club’s constitution, the removal of a chief executive requires the approval of 75 per cent of the board. The Manly-Warringah Rugby League Football Club holds two of the seven board positions and its directors are backing Cleary to the hilt. It means he will have the opportunity to implement his vision for the Sea Eagles, no matter how unstable the political climate gets on the northern beaches.

The development will save Cleary from becoming the eighth chief executive to be churned through since the Northern Eagles debacle, unless he leaves of his own volition.

Fulton and Cleary were  mates before the termination of Kristie Fulton’s employment at the club. It was Fulton who put forward Cleary’s name  as a potential replacement for outgoing chief executive Joe Kelly and the pair have spent time together on the Fulton family farm.

With Cleary’s jurisdiction now covering football as well as administration, they are going to have to get along or risk the club imploding.

We’ve been told that Fulton’s son, Brett, isn’t on the payroll. He has been coaching the Harold Matthews side free of charge, and sponsoring the junior program through his company Fulton Francis.

Fulton, who had no input in Cleary’s decision to move Kristie to a business development role, is declining all interview requests to ensure the situation isn’t  inflamed.


Flano’s bid to keep Sharks together

Wade Graham is tipped to be the next Shark to re-sign as coach Shane Flanagan urged his stars to take pay cuts to keep his premiership-winning side intact. Cronulla have a host of stars off-contract at the end of this season, including Graham, Jack Bird, Chad Townsend and Matt Prior, who are all being offered big bucks to leave the Shire.

“Everyone is going to be offered more money to go elsewhere,” Flanagan said. “They are good players, they have just come off winning a competition and some of them are young. We all know they can chase more money elsewhere. We’re talking to all of our players from the grand final side, so all of them might have to take what they feel is a snip to keep this group together.

Pitch: Shane Flanagan is urging his premiership-winning team to sacrifice for the greater good.Pitch: Shane Flanagan is urging his premiership-winning team to sacrifice for the greater good. Photo: John Veage

“The feedback I get is that they want to stay together. We can continue to do what we did on the weekend and last year if this group sticks together for a while.

“When you win a grand final you can’t replace that [feeling]. All the players realise that. All the players want to do the best for themselves and I understand that, but we’ve got to fit them into the salary cap.”


Lebanon roll out big names for World Cup

Lebanon’s preparations for the Rugby League World Cup officially got under way on Thursday night when coach Ivan Cleary gathered his squad at Canterbury Leagues Club.

Robbie Farah, Mitchell Moses and Tim Mannah were among the star players in attendance, while Michael Lichaa and Josh Mansour are also keen to be part of the campaign. There is even the possibility former Brisbane, Canberra and Parramatta back Reece Robinson could play alongside his brother, Travis, for the Cedars if his Waratahs commitments allow.

Enthusiastic: Lebanon Rugby League World Cup coach Ivan Cleary with key players Mitchell Moses, Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah.Enthusiastic: Lebanon Rugby League World Cup coach Ivan Cleary with key players Mitchell Moses, Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah. Photo: Narelle Spangher

“The NRL players are not only good players, but also play in key positions,” Cleary said. “That’s a point of difference compared to other developing nations.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on the cusp as well, so there won’t be any shortage of enthusiasm, that’s for sure. We’ll be well and truly underdogs, but the opportunity is amazing. This will be the biggest stage that most of those guys have played on.”

Cleary will coach for the first time since his Panthers departure when Lebanon take on Malta  during the representative round on May 6.


Touchy subject

Former NRL touch judge Phil Haines has recently succeeded in a workers’ compensation claim against the NRL.

When Haines injured his left knee while performing back squats at a training session in January of 2014, a claim was made and liability was disputed. The case boiled down to whether Haines was excluded from the definition of worker under the workers’ compensation act.

Unable to properly complete his refereeing duties due to medical advice, his contract was terminated in November of that year. While Haines is making more now as a real estate agent than he did as a match official, orders were made in Haines’ favour for a year’s worth of wages.


Bunnies feud

Former South Sydney co-owner Peter Holmes a Court has spoken about his fallout with Russell Crowe, blaming himself for the split that threatened to fracture the Rabbitohs.

Holmes a Court bought the club with Crowe in 2006, but soon fell out with the Oscar winner. The pair, pictured right, had a strained relationship right up until he sold his 37.5 per cent share of the club to James Packer following Souths’ 2014 premiership.

Asked about their stoush, Holmes a Court told 60 Minutes it was “overstated”. “[It was] over a long time ago, and something that happens in business,” Holmes a Court said.

Asked whose fault it was, the son of Australia’s first billionaire said:  “It’s always mine. I think it’s the only way to grow and learn, isn’t it? You start blaming other people, you stop learning.” 60 Minutes screens on the Nine Network at 8.30pm on Sunday.


Johnson No.1?

The Roosters already have two gun halves  in Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary, but it hasn’t stopped them from considering  a move for Warriors playmaker Shaun Johnson.

While Johnson has made his name as a halfback – he is the incumbent New Zealand No.7 – the tricolours have toyed with the idea of recruiting him as a fullback.

Johnson is one of the game’s best ball runners and would benefit from the extra space at the back. The Roosters also have an eye on Cronulla’s Jack Bird, who showed he is more than capable of becoming a full-time custodian in last weekend’s big win over Canberra.

The Warriors are in a tricky position with their halves, because Johnson and Kieran Foran are free agents. Another gun playmaker, Tuimoala Lolohea, is far from happy about being shifted all over the Warriors back line. There are a couple of rival clubs keen on Lolohea and are watching his situation  closely.


Vunivalu fears

There are concerns Suliasi Vunivalu’s shoulder injury could be worse than first feared. The initial prognosis on the Melbourne winger’s AC joint injury was four weeks, but he could be out for up to twice as long. The winger has scored 25 tries in 24 games and could be at the centre of a tug of war for his services between the Kiwis, Kangaroos and Fiji in the lead-up to the World Cup.


Stars head for Hills

There are plenty of big names still running around in the third-tier Ron Massey Cup. Experienced first-graders Feleti Mateo and Heath L’Estrange are playing for the Hills District, while troubled youngster Willis Meehan is making a low-key comeback with the Auburn Warriors.

Midweek show

Channel Seven is keen to introduce a new, midweek league show as part of their Rugby League World Cup coverage. As we revealed last week, Seven and Fox Sports remain in dialogue about a simulcast agreement, although our mail is that the odds on a deal are lengthening. Given its coverage will have a national reach, Seven is looking for personalities from Queensland and other regions. Former Bronco Shane Webcke is already on the books and will be used in the coverage, while Billy Moore could be another Queenslander the network will  consider. Former Kiwis halfback Gary Freeman is another potential target.


Kev eyes Milford

Queensland are desperate to work out a way to include Anthony Milford in this year’s State of Origin series. Maroons coach Kevvie Walters reckons the livewire Brisbane half could run amok if he gets a chance to come on against a tiring Blues defence.


Titan’s return

Gold Coast utility back Nathan Davis is likely to return to Parramatta. Davis has made eight NRL appearances for the Titans since making his first-grade debut against Newcastle last year and is a player of undoubted promise. The former Australian Schoolboy  hasn’t settled into life on the holiday strip and is considering a return to his old club.


Storm signing

Expect the re-signing announcements to continue at Melbourne in coming weeks. Promising forward Christian Welch will be the latest forward to recommit.