Shane Flanagan defends Dogs on son Kyle

Scott Bailey |

Shane Flanagan has admitted the furore surrounding his son’s recall by Canterbury has been a distraction while insisting the halfback has not been thrown to the wolves against Penrith.

The 23-year-old Flanagan has a tough assignment in his first NRL appearance of the season, up against the unbeaten defending premiers on Sunday night as Matt Burton’s third halves partner in five weeks.

Flanagan senior on Saturday backed the Bulldogs’ assertions that Phil Gould and Trent Barrett always intended for his son to spend the first month in reserve grade before an NRL return.

The Cronulla premiership-winning coach said he could understand the debate around the timing of the return against the Panthers, but had been disappointed by the reaction to it.

“The club behind the scenes have supported him and they haven’t thrown him to the wolves,” Flanagan said on 2GB. 

“There has been a bit of a plan. And he is a first-grader. He’s back playing tomorrow and I’m sure he’ll do well.

“It’s really strange for me to see all the drama around it, and it was really disappointing … for Kyle as a distraction coming back to play first grade. 

“It should have been a positive story.”

Flanagan insisted that Kyle was happy to return against Penrith, adding that he would hopefully face all 15 other clubs this season.

In his time in NSW Cup, the former Cronulla and Sydney Roosters halfback helped Canterbury to an undefeated opening month, taking on the line more than any other half and sitting second for try-assists.

It comes after he played just four games for Canterbury in the second half of last season, battling to get any football after being dropped after nine rounds. 

“Gus (Gould) came out and said he has been dealing with Kyle, and that is 100 per cent correct,” Flanagan said. 

“I met with Gus last year and Gus said ‘we need to reset him, we need to get him started again. He had a tough year, playing in a side that was getting a lot of points put on them and he changed his game the way he is playing.  So he needs to get back to NSW Cup and enjoy himself and and work on a few things’. 

“To his credit, he stuck to his word and has been working with Kyle.”