General Price applauds Warriors management



Awwwsmhcomau ffximage 2006 02 28 nrl wideweb 470x401 0

Brave faces … John Hart, Maurice Kidd and Wayne Scurrah leave NRL headquarters yesterday.

STEVE Price last night applauded the Warriors management for coming clean over the club's salary cap breaches - even though it means he and his teammates will start the season two wins behind their rivals in the NRL.

Price, the Warriors captain, learned the club had been docked four competition points and fined $430,000 by a phone call from director of football and former All Blacks coach John Hart, and while disappointed he said there was little the players could do about the situation.

The Kangaroos prop and his front-row partner Ruben Wiki have been the two stars whose contracts came under most scrutiny from NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert, with the New Zealand Test skipper having been guaranteed a development job valued at $150,000 over three seasons after he retires, but Price said the players had no idea the club was over the cap.

However, he praised the Warriors' new management team of chairman Maurice Kidd, chief executive Wayne Scurrah and Hart for having the courage to come forward when they found irregularities with some aspects of the club's dealings with players for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

"I congratulate them for doing what they did and coming clean. It took a lot of guts to do that," Price told the Herald. "It's disappointing but rules are there for a reason and if a club breaks them, they get punished."

Despite refusing to rule out legal action to challenge the penalty, Kidd said he had no regrets over the decision to reveal to Schubert that the club had been $860,000 over the salary cap the previous two seasons and would have exceeded the $3.36million ceiling for player payments this year.

"Not at all. That was the right thing to do and still is the right thing," Kidd said outside NRL headquarters after spending 11 hours with Scurrah, Hart and Cullen Investments chief operating officer Liz Style, who has a background in corporate law.

Having spoken to the Warriors' millionaire owners Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin - whose Cullen Investments holds a 75 per cent stake in the club - during the hearing, Kidd said they were considering their options. Late last night, however, Watson and Hotchin said they remained committed to the Auckland-based club.

"We will do everything in our power to assist the team to compete in a competition which is no longer on a level playing field," they said in a joint statement. "We accept … we will incur a fine and we can move on from that. However, the points decision is extremely disappointing and unfair."

With no other club having been docked competition points before the start of a season, the Warriors now hope the ruling will galvanise Kiwis fans to get behind the only non-Australian team in the NRL.

Asked if the Warriors could still make the finals, Kidd said: "With our team, yes."

Price, too, was confident the Warriors would finish in the eight and, after having gone through a similar situation at the Bulldogs, believed the setback would bring players closer together.

"Our goal is to make the top eight and that hasn't changed," Price said. "Obviously it's going to be a bit harder but it's just like taking out the two byes … we get no points for a bye now. Obviously we can cop it on the chin or sit down and sulk about it, but I'm not going to sit and sulk."

"It is pretty disappointing but at the end of the day that's the situation we have put ourselves in and we have to accept that now and get together as a group and overcome this test of character."

Asked if players had been aware the club had exceeded the salary cap, he said: "Never. My contract is between myself, the club and the NRL and it's the same with each of the 25 players in the squad."

NRL chief executive David Gallop indicated that further action may be taken against player agents over the deals done with the Warriors.

"The agent accreditation committee will no doubt look at whether any further action needs to be taken but at this stage we are proceeding with the loss of competition points and the fine on the club," he said.


From the look of that photo Hart, Kidd and Scurrah look quite happy with the outcome.

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