Gorden Tallis makes bombshell claim amid Melbourne Storm trophy furore

The NRL great suggested salary cap cheating was widespread during an extraordinary on-air spray.

Pictured left is NRL legend Gorden Tallis.
Gorden Tallis sparked uproar after commenting on the Melbourne Storm NRL premiership trophy furore. Pic: Getty/Twitter

Gorden Tallis has left rugby league fans enraged after claiming salary cap cheating was widespread in the NRL and suggesting most premiership-winning teams in the last five years have been guilty of it in some way. The league great delivered a stunning on-air tirade on Monday night's NRL 360 program, after debating the furore around the Melbourne Storm's trophy celebration.

The Storm sparked backlash during celebrations to mark the club's 25th anniversary after past players paraded their premiership trophies on Friday night - including two replica versions of the 2007 and 2009 premiership trophies that were stripped after the club was found guilty of systemic cheating. Melbourne beat Manly in the 2007 grand final and Parramatta in the 2009 decider, before being caught cheating the salary cap by more than $1.5 million.

ROUND 22 WRAP: Newcastle and Melbourne plunged into ugly dramas

'SAD TO HEAR': NRL world reacts to awful news about Wally Lewis

Cameron Smith was among those to defend the club over its controversial move and the Storm champion found an ally in Tallis, who clashed with The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield in a fiery segment on Monday night. Rothfield argued the Storm "did not legitimately win those grand finals" in 2007 and 2009 because they cheated, and therefore shouldn't have included them in the parade.

However, Tallis disagreed and made the bombshell claim that not only was salary cap rorting common in the sport, but suggested some of the NRL's recent premiers have been guilty of it. “How many teams have won the grand final in the last five years and been under (the cap)?” Tallis asked.

Rothfield fired back: “I don’t know Gorden, it’s easy to say that, where’s your proof?” While Tallis failed to back up his wild insinuation with evidence, he doubled down on the assertion that the Storm had every right to celebrate the premierships that had been stripped from the club.

“Listen, Melbourne Storm won, unless you’re a Storm fan I reckon you’re shitty, but they won those trophies. In my mind, as a footy fan, they’ve got a right to put them there,” he added.

On the right is Melbourne legend Cameron Smith and the Storm's controversial NRL trophy celebration on the left.
Melbourne legend Cameron Smith is among those who have defended the Storm's controversial trophy celebrations. Image: Getty

Rothfield's suggestion the Storm's stripped trophies should go to Manly and Parramatta - as the runners-up in those years - was promptly shot down by fellow panelists Braith Anasta and Brent Read. Rothfield then turned on Tallis once more to convey his disgust over the Storm trophy furore.

“Greg Inglis is holding the trophy and he got a speed boat on the side. Gordie you can’t defend this, they didn’t legitimately win the title,” he argued. Tallis shot back: “In my opinion, I have no problem with it."

Gorden Tallis under fire over salary cap claims

The three-time premiership winner then sparked further uproar after questioning whether clubs can win an NRL premiership without cheating the cap. “So let’s pretend the cameras are all off, can you win the NRL without winning the salary cap?” Tallis asked.

The question prompted fellow panelist Brent Read to interject, with the league journalist describing the suggestion from Tallis as "rubbish". He argued clubs like back-to-back premiers the Penrith Panthers would be filthy about such an inference, with NRL fans taking to social media to condemn Tallis' wild take.

“Yes you can Gordie, I think that argument is rubbish. I don’t think Penrith cheats the salary cap and they’ve won it the last two years. I think that suggestion you need to cheat to win is garbage. I think that’s really disrespectful to the teams that have won it in recent years,” Read said.

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.