Cronulla Sharks Investigated For Possible Salary Cap Breaches
The NRL Integrity Unit is investigating suspicious payments from 2015.
Cronulla and the NRL insist they're confident the Sharks are salary cap compliant headed into the finals series after revelations the club self reported for historical discrepancies surrounding third-party payments.
News Corp Australia reported on Tuesday night that new chief executive Barry Russell had found issues dating back to 2015 while the club was under previous management.
The initial figure of concern is believed to be about $250,000 but computer servers have been handed over to the NRL examine the details more closely. Crucially, the Sharks won their maiden premiership in 2016 and at this stage, it's understood that title is not in danger.
Regardless, the drama has the potential to disrupt the Sharks who enter the final round of this season in fourth spot and as one of the form sides.
"The Cronulla Sharks informed the NRL Integrity Unit earlier in the year of salary cap discrepancies relating to historical third-party player payments, discovered during a club instigated governance review," the Sharks said in a statement.
"The Sharks self-reported to the NRL and asked for their assistance in investigating this matter.
"The club is fully co-operating with the NRL Integrity Unit, allowing them access to any information they require to complete their investigation."
It added that the club was "currently salary cap compliant for the 2018 season having passed our mid-season salary cap review".
A spokesman for the NRL also confirmed the Sharks had asked the integrity unit to make the inquiries.
"Those inquiries are ongoing so we are not in a position to comment further at this stage," he said.
"However based on the information available, the Sharks and all other clubs are salary cap compliant for 2018."
Retiring veteran Luke Lewis was confident the issue wouldn't impact on the Sharks' title hopes ahead of their last-round clash with Canterbury on Sunday.
"I don't see anything happening in the next week or two. Whatever happens happens. There's nothing we can do now. The past is the past," he told NRL360.
"We've been through it all before. Back in 2014 with the ASADA stuff. It is what it is.
"We can't do anything as players, we don't know what's going on. Let the senior guys sort it out, we'll get out there and play footy, get on the training park."
The drama is the second salary cap scandal to engulf the NRL this year, after Manly were fined $750,000 and had $330,000 stricken from both this and next year's cap following long-term breaches.
That issue is still being appealed.
Parramatta were the last club to lose points over cap breaches when their 2016 season was torn apart by matters again relating to third parties.