Storm legend Cameron Smith has declared that Melbourne should have their 2007 and 2009 premierships reinstated after Cronulla emerged from their own salary cap scandal without losing their 2016 title.
In 2010, the discovery that the Storm had exceeded the salary cap by $3.7 million over five years led to the club being stripped of the two titles, as well as the 2006, 2007 and 2008 minor premierships.
The NRL this week released the results of an investigation that uncovered $750,000 in illegal third-party agreements set up through a company endorsed by the Cronulla board, however punishment was limited to a $1.25 million fine with $500,000 suspended due to CEO Barry Russell’s self reporting.
The Sharks will also need to shed at least one player to be cap compliant for the 2019 season, and will be forced to operate at $353,000 below their rivals both this year and next.
In light of this week’s findings, Smith believes the NRL “may find a different outcome” if the league were to revisit the penalties against the Storm.
“The clear difference for me is that there is a fair bit of time put into gathering all the evidence, the emails, all that sort of stuff, and they haven’t made a decision after what was just 48 hours like ours,” Smith said at the NRL launch on Thursday.
“They have put a fair bit of time and thought into the punishment handed down to Cronulla. It hasn’t happened in the space of two days.
“As far as looking at what happened at Cronulla and having the understanding of what I know happened at our club, it sounds quite similar, yet we were made to play an entire season without points and had premierships taken off us.
“It is almost like the same or similar crime with a completely different punishment. If you look over the course of time from 2010 to now there are a handful of clubs that have been over the salary cap by similar amounts and they haven’t been made to sit out a season or not play for points.”
Smith’s Storm open the NRL season with a home matchup with the Broncos on Thursday 14th March, with the Sharks facing an away trip to Newcastle on Friday 15th.