Storm Stars to be sacrificed for cap - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm Stars to be sacrificed for cap

By Steve Jancetic 23/04/2010 06:38:43 PM Comments (0)

Having deceitfully assembled some of the best talent the NRL has to offer, Melbourne officials have now been left to ponder which stars will be sacrificed in order to get the disgraced club back under the salary cap.

The Storm have just over ten months to shed more than $700,000 in player wages, payments that were on Thursday found to be part of a five-year $1.7 million rort of the salary cap.

NRL chief executive David Gallop on Friday threatened the Storm with exclusion from next year's competition if they could not get their books in order by March.

And it's a predicament almost certain to cost Melbourne at least one of their stars - the likes of either Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith or Cooper Cronk.

"I'm not sure how they're going to do that (get under the cap) at this stage, but they need to do it by the time they start playing in 2011," Gallop said on Friday.

"The salary cap is about assembling a playing roster - it is very difficult to dismantle that playing roster."

Asked what would happen if the Storm failed to get under the cap, Gallop said: "They won't be participating while ever they're over the cap."

Removing $700,000 is no easy task, with all players in the 25-man squad required to have a minimum salary of $55,000.

That means whoever is shipped out of the Victorian capital must be replaced by a player on at least $55,000.

The club can rule out any thoughts of re-signing NSW Origin prospect Aiden Tolman - who is due a significant upgrade - while shedding lesser lights such as Dane Neilsen, Ryan Tandy, Anthony Quinn or Ryan Hinchcliffe will do little in the way of creating cap relief.

Should the new chief executive target mid-level earners such as Ryan Hoffman, Adam Blair and injured Kiwi backrower Sika Manu, then the number of players to go would have to increase to bring the cap down.

The next problem facing the Storm, once they have determined who to farewell, is finding the player a new home.

Every club in the competition would jump at the chance to sign a Smith, Inglis, Cronk or Slater, but finding room under the cap to accommodate a $400,000-a-year player may prove difficult.

That could again lead to someone like Inglis being approached by rugby union, just over two years after he rejected big offers from French rugby union to re-sign with the Storm through to the end of the 2012 season.

"Of course I would rather players don't go to rugby union, but the Storm need to get themselves below the cap for the 2011 season," Gallop said of the threat from rival codes.

The new Melbourne Rebels Super 15 franchise - from which former Storm boss Brian Waldron resigned as chief executive on Friday - refused to rule out poaching Storm players.

"If they want to continue on in Melbourne, we've probably got a reason to talk to them," Rebels chairman Harold Mitchell said.

While some players will no doubt soon be on the way out, the Storm began feeling the effects of the scandal on Friday with both major sponsors cutting ties.

Chairman Rob Moodie also offered his resignation to Storm owners News Limited, but it wasn't accepted.

Meanwhile Gallop gave little credence to Waldron's reported claim that salary cap rorting was rife throughout the NRL.

"It's the oldest schoolyard excuse that everyone else is doing it," Gallop said.

"I've always said the salary cap isn't foolproof ... if you're taking that risk, you're taking a big one."

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