Having had no contact with the Cronulla board for days, it occurred to Shane Flanagan, when he was summoned to a mid-afternoon meeting on Friday, that he might not exit the room as the Sharks coach. His fears were realised, but worse was to come.
Flanagan arrived at the 3pm meeting - with board member Peter Kerr and a solicitor engaged by the club - to be told he had been stood down, pending an investigation into the practices of the club in 2011, while football manager Darren Mooney, trainer Mark Noakes, physiotherapist Konrad Schultz and doctor David Givney had been sacked.
''I've got to support the players here,'' Flanagan told Fairfax Media. ''I still believe that the players have not done anything wrong. I didn't oversee anything. My involvement … I've got no idea, bar being coach at the time. I've worked really hard to get this footy team together and I feel sorry for all the current players as well as the new players who have come to our club.
''Some of them came to the club because of me. Now they've just been ripped apart by this board. I just hope the players come out of this looked after. I know I've done nothing wrong. My reputation will be intact. These people's won't be.''
The five men discarded by the Sharks met on Friday afternoon to discuss what to do next. As they did so, Sharks players were gathered at Rydges Hotel in Cronulla to be told their football department had been gutted, and they would be coached in Sunday's match against Gold Coast by Peter Sharp, who was Flanagan's assistant up until Friday afternoon.
''None of today's decisions have been taken lightly. We'll be asking our members to stand strong with us,'' deputy chairman Keith Ward said. ''It's about getting our house in order, about what we believe in as a club, what we want to be as a club and the standards we expect of everyone in the club.''
Flanagan maintained he wanted to continue as a coach in the NRL, but whether he does so at the Sharks depends on the club's investigation - as well as his desire to return.
Flanagan took over from Ricky Stuart at the helm of the club late in the 2010 season. Cronulla have been in crisis after Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority officials told players they were facing minimum six-month suspensions due to revelations they might have taken performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 season.
The 2013 season had been viewed as a new dawn for the club following the off-season acquisition of high-profile recruits Luke Lewis, Michael Gordon and Jonathan Wright.
Flanagan believed he had assembled a squad capable of winning the premiership this year. Those hopes appear to have been dashed before the season has begun.