Storm prepared to sack 10 players in order to retain stars

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Melbourne Storm prepared to sack 10 players in order to retain superstars

* By Dean Ritchie
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* July 14, 2010 12:00AM

MELBOURNE Storm are preparing to shed 10 players for next season to ensure their four superstars - Greg Inglis, Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater - remain at the embattled club.

The full extent of the Storm's salary cap rorting will be revealed this week following an independent investigation by forensic auditors Deloitte.

The report was due to be handed down today but will now be tomorrow, or even Friday.

Sources have revealed Melbourne will release 10 players for next season - Ryan Tandy (who has already joined Canterbury), Brett Finch (Super League), Aidan Tolman (Canterbury), Jeff Lima (Wigan), Ryan Hoffman (Wigan), Anthony Quinn, Luke MacDougall, Todd Lowrie, Ryan Hinchcliffe and either Sika Manu or Adam Blair.

The cull means most of last year's grand final winning team will be gone, although it appears representative prop Brett White will survive along with Inglis, Cronk, Slater and Smith.

Insiders claim Melbourne will throw a bunch of kids - like Chase Stanley, Matt Duffie and Justin O'Neill - in with the remaining stars in the hope they can still be competitive and relevant. It is understood the four stars will have renewed contracts worth a combined $2.2 million, leaving 21 players to be squeezed into $2.1 million - a truly difficult assignment. Storm players on Monday met with coaching staff to discuss their future and the club's plans.

"We are unsure who is going to be at our club next season," said skipper Smith.

"There has been talk about Greg [Inglis] going to the Broncos and others maybe going to England and players being shopped around.

"I don't think there is angst between any of the players but it's a situation we would rather not be in."

Yesterday, Melbourne's independent directors met with their legal representatives. There was speculation that one Sydney-based player manager will be attacked in the report over emails he sent to then Storm CEO Brian Waldron.

News Limited instigated an audit of the club's books after the Storm were found to have systematically breached the salary cap over the last five seasons.

NRL management has not yet seen the report, nor have officials from the Storm. It is understood Deloitte delivered the report to News executives last week.

In a positive step for the club, Melbourne are poised to announce a new CEO within the next fortnight.

The NRL market is in limbo as clubs wait see how many Melbourne players will be cast off for 2011.

Some members of the Storm staff have already moved on, including high-performance manager Troy Thompson, who has joined the Melbourne Rebels.

Inglis has rejected a $400,000 a year offer from the Broncos - as well as overtures from the AFL - and is now poised to stay with the Storm.
 
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Manu and Blair are the only two out of that group who interest me given the others all have clubs lined up.
 

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