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Waldron was 'chief rat' of Storm rort

27/04/2010 06:48:15 PM Comments (0)

News Limited chief executive John Hartigan has ruled out any prospect of the Melbourne Storm's owners funding an appeal of the wide-ranging sanctions imposed on the NRL club for salary cap rorting.

Hartigan told the Storm players and staff on Tuesday that they retained the support of News Ltd.

But he was scathing in his criticism of former club CEO Brian Waldron, describing him as "chief rat" of the systemic abuse of the salary cap which came to light last week.

Melbourne were stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships, fined heavily and banned from earning any competition points in 2010 for the salary cap breaches.

Speaking after Sunday's 40-6 points-less win over the Warriors, Storm players said they hoped an appeal could see them reinstated as 2007 and 2009 premiers.

"We won't be appealing," said Hartigan.

"These are at the most serious end of indiscretions and as ugly as it is, this simply will not be appealed."

Hartigan said the Storm would have to shed some big-name players if they were to get under the cap.

"The truth is, and it's ugly, but we'll have to get under the cap," he said.

"They are a great group of people, they want to be together.

"I came down here on Sunday night and I had goosebumps watching them.

"But regrettably you can't keep them (all)."

Waldron - who quit the Storm several months ago to join new Super Rugby franchise the Melbourne Rebels before being forced to resign - broke his silence on the salary cap scandal late on Monday.

Waldron said he told NRL boss David Gallop several years ago that there needed to be an amnesty period to allow the many clubs he believed were abusing the salary cap to come forward without fear of punishment.

Gallop has denied ever ruling out an amnesty because it would damage the game's reputation, as claimed by Waldron.

"The reason that amnesties were not considered, and will not be considered, is that the line was drawn in the sand with the Bulldogs in 2002," said Gallop.

"It is impossible to take the action we did in relation to the Bulldogs and grant amnesties to others."

Waldron also said he was prepared to tell News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch the exact nature of the company's $66 million investment in the Storm dating back to its entry into the NRL in 1998.

"I suggest he goes to the police and tells them because I'd be very interested," responded Hartigan.

"I want the truth to come out and that's the furthest from the truth.

"One thing needs to be purely understood here - we've got an inquiry in place and presumably it'll come out."

Acting CEO Matt Hanson was one of two senior Storm officials dumped by the club's owners last week following revelations that Melbourne had exceeded the salary cap by a total of $1.7 million over several years.

But Hartigan stood by his claim that Waldron was the chief instigator of the widespread breaches.

"I said something last Thursday, he's the architect of this whole badness in this club," said Hartigan.

"And I also suggested at another level that there were rats in the ranks.

"I think it's quite simple, if you draw a line between both of those comments I think it leads to the chief rat, and I have no question or doubt that it's him."

The News Ltd boss also urged anyone still involved with the Storm who had knowledge of the salary cap rorts to come clean with investigators.

"I want them and anybody else in the club who knows about indiscretions, to come forward because we want to know about it," he said.

"I want to absolve the majority of people of any blame or complicity in this whole affair.

"When we finish that process, when the auditors finish their process, we'll be able to go forward and rebuild the club to be as proud, or hopefully even prouder than it has been."

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