Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith.

Smith whacks NRL double standard

Veteran Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith has opened a can of worms, calling out an NRL double standard in the latest salary cap drama involving the Cronulla Sharks.

The Storm were infamously found to have rorted the salary cap by $1.7 million, leading the NRL to strip them of their 2007 and 2009 premierships. They were also slapped with a hefty $1.7 million fine following the ordeal.

The Sharks, on the other hand, were fined $750,000 after a lengthy investigation into a salary cap breach. After nine months of scrutiny the NRL declared illegal payments made within the club didn't affect their 2016 season when they won their first premiership.

"They look quite similar the way the salary cap breaches came about yet you see two significantly different punishments," The Courier Mail reported Smith saying.

"I think everyone can see what happened to us was fairly harsh. You haven't seen anything like it since.

"They have put a bit of time and thought into the punishment handed down to Cronulla.

"That is a clear standout. It hasn't happened in the space of two days. As far as looking at what had 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. So it is almost like the same or similar crime with a completely different punishment."

 

NRL GIANT HEADED OVERSEAS

NRL wrecking ball Sam Kasiano is reportedly leaving the Melbourne Storm for the Super League this season, joining French side the Catalans Dragons after a failed bid from the Dragons fell short.

The Storm were reportedly looking to offload Kasiano to take stress off their salary cap headache going into the season after reports claimed they were a hair over the $9.6 million limit.

St George then tried snagging Kasiano to bolster their forward pack, but a report from Fox Sports' James Hooper revealed the 28-year-old opted for the security of a three year deal with the overseas side.

The Dragons currently have a spot to fill on their 30-man roster for the year - two if Jack de Belin is cut from the side - and will now have to look elsewhere to add meat to the forwards.

Sam Kasiano is going to France.
Sam Kasiano is going to France.

DE BELIN SCANDAL TAKES ANOTHER TURN

Peter Beattie has told the NRL's sponsors and fans that the league's no-fault policy will work, despite the game's season launch being overshadowed by drama. The NRL launched their season at Icebergs in Bondi on Thursday night, just hours after Jack de Belin took the game to court over their decision to stand him down under the new rules.

The St George Illawarra lock earned brief reprieve on Thursday in the Federal Court, where the NRL admitted the rule was yetto be finalised - meaning he was not yet stood down.

But the NRL are adamant it will be enacted in the next 48 hours and de Belin's ban will be formalised, well before the matter returns to court next Thursday with the player challenging whether the rule can be made.

Regardless though, Beattie used his opening address at the launch to declare the new policy would work in front of the game's sponsors, fans and highest-profile players.

"You all know that we're taking a stand on player behaviour. We are determined as a game to grow up as a game," ARL Commission chairman Beattie said. "Not just in terms of policy changes but rather a holistic strategy to improve our culture in the game.

"We do that because it is the right thing to do, and we do that because we value you as partners, we value you our players and we value our fans. "The commission is absolutely determined to deliver on this. "Let me just say to all of you: Give usa little bit of time, but the rule change we brought in - the no-fault rule - will work." Beattie earlier on Thursday admitted to AAP his job was on the line over his determination to clean up the game's image, after he last week claimed the no- fault policy gave the league the power to fix its broken culture. De Belin's sexual assault charge - which he has vigorously denied and pleaded not guilty to - is one of several dramas to have plagued the league this summer. In total 15 players have either gone through the courts since the end of the 2018 regular season orhave matters still outstanding, while the sex-tape scandal seemingly remains ongoing.

But Beattie said the new rule was the first of several measures taken to turn around the off-field issues.

"(Commissioner) Professor Megan Davis - who is an expert in this area - will look at our culture, look at the programs we'vegot, to make sure they are delivering what we want them to deliver to the game," he said. "In addition to that, we will bespend $8 million a year on those cultural changes. To make certain that what has happened for a tiny percentage of players doesn't happen again."

- with AAP