Storm clouds pass, future bright says boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm clouds pass, future bright says boss

Melissa Woods 17/12/2010 03:20:27 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Storm boss Ron Gauci says the NRL club is emerging from the salary cap debacle in better shape than he expected.

Doomsayers predicted the demise of the Storm after it was revealed in April the club had been systematically rorting the salary cap between 2006 and 2010 to the tune of more than $3 million.

They were stripped of two premierships, all 2010 points and heavily fined, while two major sponsors, among others, immediately cut ties.

There was a mass exodus of players as the club moved to get under the salary cap, although they were able to retain all but one of their "fab four" star players, with only Greg Inglis moving on.

However, chief executive Gauci, who took over in July after the sacking of disgraced Matt Hanson, who had already replaced so-called "chief rat" Brian Waldron, says the future looks bright.

"The general perception from the outside was that the club was doomed, the playing roster was going to be decimated, and in fact there were those calling for the end of the Melbourne Storm, if not rugby league in Victoria," Gauci said.

"If you look at the position we're now in today, that's a far cry removed from where people thought or maybe even hoped we'd be.

"It's fair to say whilst we took a bit of a knock in April the reality is that the way that the players performed since and the way that the club has responded since if anything has earned a great deal of respect.

"I think the response has been better than I anticipated."

Despite the wooden spoon status, the Storm finished the season with a 14-10 win-loss record, which was level with the fifth-placed Warriors.

Gauci believed this courage and commitment was key to their revival in 2011.

"They came out and put their bodies on the line and I think the fact that they won as many games this year as they did last year is a real credit to the players and the coach and the football operations department.

"It was very, very impressive."

Gauci said 2010 membership and crowds actually topped the previous season and he expected a further rise next year, while the club was in discussions with a number of sponsors.

The NRL is still to finalise its report on the investigation into the cheating, however there's no further action pending against Melbourne.

An investigation by Victoria Police Fraud Squad is deemed to be "ongoing".

Gauci felt they had already moved on.

"The feeling is really quite positive, we've injected some new players and new coaches and dynamics has been really quite positive.

"I've been encouraged by the mood in the place, most people have commented that there's that extra skip in everyone's step.

"We can't wait until the new year."

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