Sharks spirit to the fore in quest for maiden premiership

When Lyall Gorman took over as Cronulla chief executive, he would spend up to 100 hours a week trying to give the club what he described as "a turbo charge" and restore its battered image.

It was November 2014 and around the time the Sharks were at their lowest ebb.

They had finished with the wooden spoon, coach Shane Flanagan had missed the season because of a suspension related to their supplements saga, while some players had accepted backdated ASADA bans.

Fast forward less than two years and the club is one win away from its maiden premiership with only the Melbourne Storm standing in its way.

"I certainly believed in the future of the club at the time," Gorman told the ABC.

"It was of one of my sort of criteria for coming into the role, I really saw a great future for this club.

"I saw a rich history with a few challenges, but I really saw a proud and passionate community, a great spirit in the football club and a belief that this club could return to the days that it had been in the past.

"A grand final in two years? Maybe that wasn't necessarily top of the mind.

"More important was to get the fundamentals of our club right, in terms of its governance model, its management model, its ability to run a good business, its values and culture.

"We put a lot of work in, probably doing in 80, 100 hours a week there for quite a while at the beginning, because I think we needed a turbo charge."

Gorman uses corporate phrases such as "marketplace" and "brand equity", but to most fans it is the performances on the field that prove the ship has been steadied.

"This club's shown the resilience, the pride, the character, the determination, the resolve to come back from a very challenging time," Gorman said.

"Of course that makes you proud, it makes me proud of that journey, it makes you proud to see where we are today, but more importantly where we're going to be in the future."

Sunday's grand final is also a vindication for the club to stand by Flanagan, who was handed a 12-month suspension in 2013.

Gorman is not short of praise for Cronulla's potential first-ever premiership coach.

"He's a great people leader. He's a Shire person to the bone, he's got a tremendous vision for our club, he's hungry to improve himself, he's hungry to improve his players," Gorman said.

"He's got an incredible thirst for success, all those sort of fundamentals that I believe are compelling in building a great sporting club."

Flanagan himself says many things helped him to keep going through the dark times.

"Self belief, what I could do and what the club could do, family and friends," Flanagan said.

"A lot of hard work's gone into since then and we've finally got to where we think we should be."

Sharks hero Graham appreciating the 'good times'

Forward Wade Graham is another who represents the Sharks' transformation on and off the field.

He was one of a number of players, along with captain Paul Gallen, who accepted a one-year ban, nine months of which was backdated.

Graham was also known for turning up to an ASADA interview in track pants and thongs.

This season he became a State of Origin player with New South Wales, and showed his maturity with how he dealt with suspension ahead of Game Two.

"To go down and have bad times it makes you really appreciate the good times even more," Graham said.

"I'm really enjoying it, I'm living in the now, I'm really enjoying this week and take the most of it as I can.

"You never know when the next one is going to come around, so really going to take it for what it is and make the most of it and hopefully get the result on Sunday (night)."

Gorman has been a major part of the revival, after joining from the A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers, but was happy to play down his role.

"When I first come here I did say to a whole lot of fans, in the fan forums we ran, that if you think it's about me then we're in really deep bother," Gorman said.

"But together we can do something special, and I think that's been the really unique part of our club."

Sharks have just 'scratched the surface'

Gorman says he never questioned his decision to join Cronulla.

"I really believed in the future of our club and I truly believe in it still today," he said.

"We've seen a great growth in two years. I still don't think we've scratched the surface. I think there's a long, long way for this club to go."

Gorman, a former A-League chief executive, was executive chairman of the Wanderers when they defied expectations and reached the A-League grand final in their debut season.

He will be hoping the Sharks can go one better on Sunday and end an almost 50-year drought.

"I was also at the (Central Coast) Mariners for two or three grand finals," he said.

"I think my record is 0-5, so maybe it's not a magic touch at all."