I knew nothing of cap rort: Kearney - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

I knew nothing of cap rort: Kearney

By Chris Barclay 26/04/2010 12:23:48 PM Comments (0)

Assistant coach Stephen Kearney has broken his silence on the Melbourne Storm's salary cap scandal, distancing himself from the deviousness that has plunged the NRL club into peril.

While an emotive coach Craig Bellamy has twice launched a spirited defence of his players and the club as the NRL continues its investigation into the Storm's bogus accounting practices, Kearney - in keeping with their contrasting personas - had maintained a low profile.

But following Monday night's rousing 40-6 defeat of the New Zealand Warriors at Etihad Stadium, Kearney detailed in measured terms the anguish he felt once the NRL exposed a fraud spanning five years and imposed its crushing sanctions.

Kearney, who is also the Kiwis coach, assured New Zealand Rugby League boss Jim Doyle at the weekend he was unaware of the scam that amounted to a $A1.7 million breach - and he reiterated his innocence.

"In the end, it's not my position to be privy to that sort of thing, I was gobsmacked," Kearney told NZPA when asked if he was aware of the contractual status of stars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk.

The club's dealings with that quartet plus fellow Australian international Brett White and former players Dallas Johnson, Michael Crocker and Steve Turner are under scrutiny as the NRL's probe continues, although there has been no public evidence players knew of wrongdoing.

The Storm were stripped of two premierships and condemned to play out the 2010 season on zero competition points.

Although the Storm's actions have brought the code into disrepute and threatened the future of the NRL's Victorian outpost, Bellamy has remained on the offensive, saying the club still considers itself the legitimate champions of 2007 and 2009.

Kearney, who played 139 games for the Storm from 1999-2004 before joining the coaching staff two years later, was not as forthright as he reflected in the aftermath of Thursday's revelations.

"There doesn't seem to be a silver lining but I'm confident we'll find one.

"Having been here a while the last couple of days have been very tough," said Kearney, who was reluctant to speculate on the Storm's future.

"There's a process we have to go through first and once we know where we're at ..... for now the focus has to about tomorrow and then the next day until we get some clarity."

While Bellamy and captain Cameron Smith have appeared on the brink of breaking down in public, Kearney has been stoic as his club risks imploding.

"Craig's certainly had a tough time of it," he said.

"It hurts just the same but I have to say I've been OK."

Kearney said reassuring chats with fellow Kiwis selectors Tony Iro and Tawera Nikau as they plot Australia's downfall in the May 7 Anzac test in Melbourne were a welcome diversion.

The support of family and ex-players had also been comforting while the presence last night of former football manager Michael Moore's widow had also placed the Storm's dramas into context.

Moore died when falling into Auckland harbour during the Storm's NRL visit to Mt Smart in 2000 - both clubs now play for a trophy named in his honour.

"We've had tragedies here before, we were playing for the Mick Moore trophy," Kearney said.

"Mick's wife was here in the sheds, and his sister.

"It's 10 years this year since Mick died. From that perspective you have to realise life goes on."

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