Friday, April 23, 2010

The Storm Dust Settling: Feelings from a Fan

The 22nd April will go down as a sad day for Rugby League with the news and subsequent punishment of the Melbourne Storm and their systematic rorting of the salary cap. Writing exclusively for, Curly has listened to all the experts and here shares his thoughts and feelings from a fan. His over-riding comment is simply, "You can't erase the Tattoos"

The dust is settling the day after the Storm in a salary cap drama. I listened and watched the like of Ray Hadley, and Phil Gould on the Thursday night footy shows. I listened to players and ex-players slam the Storm and/or the NRL, depending on which side of the fence they stood. Today is a day for reflection and some OBJECTIVE thoughts. In no way do I condone cheating or rorting of the salary cap, through any of these observations, but I am a rugby league tragic at heart and feel great pain and see a future that will rot from the head down.


At the end of the day, you cannot erase the Tattoos. The players will get to keep the Premiership rings and individual honours will still stand. Fans know who won the comp in the years. THE STORM HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR RUGBY LEAGUE. The Storm have gone from a team no-one cared about, to one that was admired and feared for its rugby league talent. Their work ethic and tactics forced the game of rugby league to improve to challenge them. They have deserved to be seen as the team of the decade.

What has been missed in the hysteria of this, has been one simple fact. The players the Storm have, were not hand picked as established stars and stolen from other clubs. They were developed within their own development pipeline. Think about this:
  • Billy Slater - Trialled with Brisbane Norths as an ex-jockey
  • Cooper Cronk was playing centre for Brisbane Norths and developed to a first class half
  • Ryan Hoffman developed within their junior development
  • Greg Inglis identified and developed through their junior networks
  • Cam Smith, knocked back through the Broncos Development program, and developed through the Storm channels
  • Aiden Tolman came from nowhere last years to be a sensation
  • Last week we saw Brian Norrie come from nowhere
  • Their roster is filled with a list of no-names that respond to the culture
I would suggest that 80% of the talent base has been brought about by their own development programs. Yes, they do go to market yearly, but this is usually for players that are not wanted at other clubs, eg Clint Newton and Brett Finch are cases in point.

The fact that a club, that develops superstars, and then has to cheat the salary cap to keep them, suggests to me that the issue is the salary cap. Why should a club be forced into this position, to keep players they have developed. Brisbane has faced this quandary right throughout its existence and questions and raised eyebrows have been often suggested behind the backs of the club.


Phil Gould made the comment on thefooty show last night. What sort of club do you want in the comp. Melbourne or Cronulla, Sharks or Storm. I want the Storm. That is as simple as it gets.

The salary cap is not the reason for the quality of the comp. It is the sole reason we still have certain teams competing. We must allow market forces to pay the players appropriately and also to shape the existance of clubs. Its still simple.


Again, Phil Gould took aim at David Gallop, and suggested that the five year time frame was an example of how inept the NRL is. Most salary cap breaches come about through a whistle blower from a disgruntled person within the club. The Storm is again a case in point. Ian Shubert does not uncover these breaches, he is described as diligent, and obviously is. But the great auditor that can uncover mass corruption of this scale, he isn't. He was pointed to the location and the rest is history.

You get the feeling Gallop loves being seen as this tough, no-nonsense executive. He gives off a feeling that he get some sort of pleasure. Was the punishment too tough...YOU BET. Would you like to be playing for no points. I don't believe enough thought was given to the punishment, over Gallops desire to be seen as a tough executive.

Now that he has effectively killed off Rugby League in Melbourne, and the commercial market it represents, the game of rugby league may actually wither and die. Without commercial support, the game will die. And we can thank David Gallop for this.

The fact that Melbourne have "accepted" their punishment is more out of guilt for the game than anything else. They were not in a position to argue, but Gallop was in a position to be a bully.


There is talk of State of Origin will be minus Melbourne players. Lets just keep stabbing the game in the back. Shall we. Of course, this will effect Qld more than NSW. Enough said for the conspiracy theory. Origin will be the only thing the Storm players can play for. Don't take that away.


Whichever way you look at it, Melbourne are gone and will bleed a slow death. Fans will stay away in droves. The players and coaches will be ostracized. Noway out and no future.


The NRL needed to come down strongly. They have gone well over the Top. I probably agree with some aspects of the punishment, but feel that regardless of the "stripping" of the Premierships, they will still be seen as the best teams in those years.

The playing for no points this year is a joke. Strip them of all points earned thus far and up till round 10, then let them play. Pay back the prizemoney and increase the size of the fine. Reduce their salary cap for the next five years by the amount they cheated the cap during that time. 1.7 over five years, equates to over $300,000 a season.  So if it is true, that the Storm over $700,000 over the cap for 2010. They lose players like a Greg Inglis, Brett Finch and a Brett White to get to the cap. Then lose another 300k for the nest five seasons. Thats a Billy Slater or a Cameron Smith out of the club. My bet would be that the Storm would survive that. They won't survive what has been placed in front of them now.



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