Storm want Fab Four despite blowout - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm want Fab Four despite blowout

By Steve Jancetic 14/07/2010 06:51:35 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne are refusing to waver from plans to retain their `Fab Four' despite fresh claims their NRL salary cap rorts were almost double initial estimates.

With fans, players and officials throughout the rugby league world anxiously awaiting the release of News Limited's independent audit of the Storm's books - due this week - Melbourne chairman Rob Moodie said the club was determined to maintain the core of its side.

That's despite revelations the Storm breached the cap by $3.2million over five years - nearly double the initial estimate of $1.7m.

However, Moodie is confident the club could shave $1.3 million in player payments for next year while staying competitive on the field.

And that means holding onto star quartet Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and skipper Cameron Smith is a must, despite the fact they would take up half the club's 2011 salary cap.

"We're certainly looking to do that," Moodie said of retaining the foursome.

"We think that we can still manage the salary cap and keep the backbone of our club."

Proposed amendments to the salary cap for next season mean the club may need to shed only $1 million in payments, which could leave the Storm capable of running out a side which would be more than competitive.

Along with the big four, props Brett White and Adam Blair may also be retained at what would be a cost of $2.5m, with the remaining $1.9m to be spent on rookies like Gareth Widdop and Justin O'Neill as well as journeymen such as current prop Bryan Norrie.

Just when that process gets underway is unknown as the Storm continued to play the waiting game on Wednesday with the release of Deloitte's audit of the club once again delayed.

Moodie won't be there to see it handed down however after flying out Vienna on Wednesday to attended the International AIDS Conference.

The Storm chairman used his departure to take another pot shot at the objectivity of the News Limited commissioned audit, which has been in the hands of the media giant's lawyers for the past week.

"This report should have been an independent report, and more importantly it should have been commissioned and completed by the NRL before premierships and points were stripped from the club," Moodie said.

"The report to us isn't independent and to be a fair and honest transparent account, then it has to be released in full, it has to be released to everybody.

"We have to be able to see it - as independent board members we haven't seen it.

Speaking to the Seven Network, News Limited chairman John Hartigan labelled Moodie's claims as "absurd".

"To suggest that they're (Deloitte) going to sculpt something to suit us is, I think, defamatory of them (the Storm's independent directors), but it's patently absurd," Hartigan said.

"The size of the infringements are huge. We're in for a shock because of the depth of what I consider a fraud."

Meanwhile, the head of the Accredited Player Agent Scheme Neil Cadigan said he had not been made aware of any player managers being complicit in systematic rorting of the salary cap.

Cadigan said the NRL had the power to strip player agents of their accreditation, but he refused to speculate on any penalties for player managers of Storm players involved in salary cap breaches.

"We've received no information, report or anything of that nature - there's been nothing but speculation and innuendo at this stage," Cadigan said.

"The process would be the NRL would report to us which I would have to investigate and if there is any complaint or any behaviour which might be regarded as being non-ethical, it would go to a committee to investigate."

Possible Storm line-up in 2011:

Billy Slater, Matt Duffie, Greg Inglis, Chase Stanley, Justin O'Neill, Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk, Brett White, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Robbie Rachow, Adam Blair. Interchange: Luke Kelly, Billy Rogers, Jesse Bromwich, Hep Cahill

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