It came in the same week that Cameron Smith took aim at Gallop in his autobiography, The Storm Within, claiming the players were “hung out to dry by the boss of the game”.
The Storm were found to be $1.7 million over the cap for a period of five years (later found in a Deloitte report to be $3.17 million) and were stripped of the 2007 and 2009 premierships, three minor premierships, handed a $500,000 fine, ordered to return $1.1 million in prizemoney and not allowed to compete for competition points for the remainder of the 2010 season.
As part of their submission, Moodie and Maher said they had legal advice that the 2010 sanctions were rushed through without issuing the club with a breach notice and giving it five days to respond.
“We went up for shoplifting and we got done for murder,” Moodie told the Herald on Friday, in reference to the April trip to Sydney where the club quickly learnt its fate.
Gallop reacted angrily to the Storm’s claims, telling The Sun-Herald on Saturday: “Of course this latest attempt to criticise the process is also 100 per cent wrong and simply ignores the fact that they completely agreed to the process being truncated.
“In fact, Moodie requested it. He was the chairman and fully understood what [penalties] they were agreeing to.
“The notes from that day are comprehensive and record Moodie saying something to the effect of, ‘I am appalled that the club has done this … we are here to get it dealt with’.
“Any credit they got for fronting up at the NRL and co-operating is now wiped out by their later backflip.
“The penalties were tough because they had to be. These Storm people should consider how tarnished the entire sport would be if they kept those trophies.”
When told about Gallop’s comments on Saturday, Maher responded by saying: “… the simple fact is there were robust conversations between [News Ltd’s chief counsel] Ian Philip on speaker phone, and those robust conversations happened while David was in the room.
“The only reason we agreed [with the sanctions] was because we were constantly told by Ian and David there was no other alternative.”
The Storm’s penalties were revisited by former NRL integrity chief Nick Weeks in 2016, but after a review they remained in place.
The Eels were found to have been operating above the cap for several years, including 2016 when they were $570,000 over. They were later fined $1 million, lost 12 competition points, had five officials deregistered and were stripped of their 2016 Auckland Nines title, including the prizemoney attached.
Then NRL boss Todd Greenberg said he was mindful not to come down too heavily on Parramatta, as the governing body had done previously with the Storm.
“I watched Melbourne Storm fans and players have to continue to play a season without the ability to accrue points – I thought that was soul-destroying, both for the players and the fans,”Greenberg said at the time.
“I’ve tried very hard to find a way forward here that Parramatta Eels can take a step forward today.”
Parramatta star Nathan Hindmarsh was in the Eels team that lost the 2009 grand final to Melbourne but, like many people in the game, he said he had moved on from the scandal.
“It’s been put to bed – it’s time to let it go,” Hindmarsh said.
“I must admit, I use it as a running joke on The Matty Johns Show how Melbourne cost me a chance to win a grand final. But we cost ourselves to win one in 2001.
“Melbourne were given a penalty that the game felt was sufficient.
“The players were out there and they won on the day. They know they won on the day and they got to feel that. All the trophies aside – and they can strip all the trophies they want – but the players got to celebrate that feeling as a team they worked hard to get, and that’s the feeling you want to get.
“There would be no point [giving Parramatta the trophy]. We didn’t win it on the day. It would be meaningless for me. Fans might think differently, but that’s just me.”
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.