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If the Sharks title isn’t stripped then the Storm must get theirs back

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Expert
13th March, 2019
127
2368 Reads

Cam Smith is right. There. I said it.

If the Sharks don’t have their 2016 Premiership stripped for their salary cap breaches then the Storm should have the 2007 and 2009 titles returned.

There is no question that Cam Smith is one of the best league players I have ever seen. He is certainly the best hooker I’ve ever seen.

He is also one of the best captains I’ve ever seen and it is a no brainer that he will be made an immortal as soon as the rules allow it. We should just give it to him now it’s so clear cut.

However, a few things he has done have poisoned the way I feel about him. Firstly, the always winning thing got old a while ago.

While the Purple People down at AAMI Park might love his 70 per cent plus winning ratio, for me – along with lots of other NRL fans – the novelty of his incessant success wore off over a decade ago.

The grapple tackles were pretty low rent and he was at the forefront of that wonderful tactic – at very least in its execution. Then there was the little matter of him and the Storm’s systematic and cynical cheating of the salary cap. Further, there was him deliberately targeting an opponent’s injury – off the ball and from behind.

It’s safe to say that I’m not his biggest fan and that he also really doesn’t care what I think anyway.

So when I say that he’s right that the Sharks should have their 2016 Premiership stripped for their salary cap breaches or the Storm should have the 2007 and 2009 titles officially returned, you should know it isn’t through any great affection I have for the bloke.

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Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith of the Storm looks on during the 2018 NRL grand final. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

He is just right.

How can one side be punished so harshly while another isn’t. Surely that’s not fair.

Let’s remember that the Sharks side that contested the 2016 NRL Grand Final was the most experienced side – cumulative game wise – to ever contest a decider. Collectively they had 2742 NRL games between them.

Staying within the salary cap would have made that much harder to do no doubt. In a game that was heavily in the balance until the final siren, it is a fair bet to say that experience was very valuable.

Just as valuable as the Storm having experienced campaigners such as Clint Newton and Michael Crocker in their 2007 side at least.

So why should the Sharks not be stripped while the Storm were? There is no good reason I can see.

The Sea Eagles got thumped last year when their breaches were uncovered. They are still dealing with the punishments that were meted out. If they had actually won anything during that period I believe they should have been stripped of that too.

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I have wasted so much time and effort railing against the non-enforcement of rules in the NRL – be they on field or off – only to realise that, for example, the NRL does not care if your blue shirt trainer is on field coaching, even though it’s in their own rules that they can’t.

As well, I believe that the salary cap is only a façade and that any club that wants to be successful in the NRL can’t actually abide by it.

I’d love the system to be fair, above board and equitable. I’d love the playing field to be fair. I’d love the rules to be properly enforced. But it isn’t and they aren’t. The Real Politic is you have most likely got to cheat/ bend the rules/ get creative to be competitive in the NRL.

However, you have to be professional and discreet about it.

If you get caught – as the Storm were, as the Sea Eagles were – you will get punished.

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You have broken the 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not get caught.”

We now await what punishment the NRL will dish out to the Sharks. Cam Smith wants it to be in line with what his side endured and that’s fair enough.

I personally think that the Sharks should keep their 2016 title – minus any winnings that went with it – but that the Storm should also be given their premierships back too.

Firstly, you can’t really strip a side of a title without awarding it to another side and who is to say that The Sea Eagles would have won in 2007, or the Eels in 2009, or the Storm in 2016?

We can’t. So you can’t just award the title to the runner up.

Paul Gallen Sharks

Hey Paul, what about a Sharks-Dragons merger? (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

And while you can stop a team name being attributed against those three seasons as much as you want, we all still know the Storm and the Sharks won those Grand Finals.

Further, it’s my opinion that they probably beat lots of sides who were also breaking the cap too, maybe just not as well.

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So let them keep those titles.

Just rename them.

Much like “The artist formerly known as Prince” and how we now refer to a “King Hit” as a “coward punch,” those titles should be renamed.

For example: “The Storm’s 2009 title they won by massively busting the salary cap” or “The Sharks 2016 title where they assembled the team by cheating.”

Put those titles in the official records.

The Storm and the Sharks can have those titles as far as I’m concerned, as long as we call a spade a f#@king shovel.

And any other NRL Premier – past or future – that is busted should be treated just the same.
But whatever Todd and his mob at NRL HQ decide to do, it should give equal treatment to all of the busted cheats.

Now – finally – let’s watch some footy!

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