Cameron Smith could be forced to sit out the opening round due to salary cap issues. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Smith could be forced to sit out the opening round due to salary cap issues. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

NRL threatens Storm with Round 1 ban

A REPORT claims Melbourne has a lot more on the line than the future of big-bopper Sam Kasiano on the line in their salary cap crunch for round one.

The Storm have in recent times been shopping the prop around to rival clubs in a bid to squeeze under the 2019 salary cap.

The Storm's full cap crisis was laid bare on Tuesday morning by Triple M NRL commentator Ben Dobbin, who said the club is $600,000 over the 2019 cap.

He reported the club is desperate to find a new home for Kasiano because the NRL recently threatened the club with being excluded from the opening round of the season on March 14 if they are still not salary cap compliant.

The NRL's other tool for dealing with clubs who are over the cap heading into the start of a season would see the Storm lose captain Cameron Smith, who was the last player to sign on with the Storm for the 2019 season.

Melbourne's salary cap crunch comes with the Sharks reportedly set to face a salary cap reduction of up to $500,000 for their salary cap scandal which reportedly dates back to cap breaches in 2015.

The Wests Tigers are also reportedly set to learn their fate surrounding a preliminary salary cap reduction of $640,000 surrounding an ambassadorial deal with club great Robbie Farah.

NRL cap auditors be coming at Cameron Smith like...
NRL cap auditors be coming at Cameron Smith like...

The clubs will learn their fate following Thursday's Australian Rugby League commission meeting.

The news is concerning for the Storm, according to Dobbin.

"My mail is the Melbourne Storm are at least $600,000 over the salary cap right now,' he said.

"He (Kasiano) has been shopped around to other clubs for some time. The NRL have said to the Melbourne Storm, 'It's like this. You can get under the salary cap within 16 days or you won't be taking the field in round one'.

"Somebody has to go for the Melbourne Storm. If they can't get rid of Sam Kasiano, there was a bit of talk if the findings come down with the NRL and St George put Jack de Belin to the sideline, St George would be able to pick up Kasiano. Kasiano is no Jack de Belin, nowhere near it.

He said the NRL's "last man" in policy would cost the Storm Smith if the NRL is forced to take action to get the Storm compliant for 2019.

"The rule around the salary cap is if you can't get under your salary cap, the last player signed is the one who has to go," he said.

"So for example at the Cronulla Sharks, Shaun Johnson, star halfback, would be the one who has to go.

"Cronulla are going to be handed down fines on Friday for salary cap breaches. They need to shed a lot of people - like second stringers - and if they can't, guess what, Shaun Johnson is gone."