Mitchell Moses in shock take over Melbourne Storm trophy uproar

The lifelong Parramatta Eels fan says he can understand both anger from fans, as well as the reasons behind the Storm's move.

Mitchell Moses is pictured left, with past Melbourne Storm players posing beside replica NRL premiership trophies on the right.
Mitchell Moses says he 'couldn't care less' that the Melbourne Storm celebrated their stripped 2007 and 2009 NRL grand final wins during the club's 25th anniversary celebrations last weekend. Pictures: Getty Images

Plenty of NRL fans were fuming after the Melbourne Storm used their 25th anniversary in the league to celebrate their stripped 2007 and 2009 premierships, but Mitchell Moses isn't one of them. The Storm came under fire from NRL fans in the lead-up to last weekend's win over the Eels for promoting a celebration of their past premiership successes - including bringing out replica trophies for the premierships later stripped after the club admitted in 2010 that it had breached the salary cap over a number of years.

Many felt it was a less than classy move from the Storm to celebrate the stripped premierships, particularly since they were facing Parramatta in their 25th anniversary game, who they defeated in the 2009 grand final. Both the '07 and '09 have been put down as an asterisk in the NRL history books, with Eels and Manly fans (who the Storm beat in '07) both aggrieved in the wake of the salary cap controversy.

DEFIANT: Robinson responds amid bombshell claims about Cronk's exit

HUGE: Payne Haas at centre of staggering $1 million Storm development

However the weekend's celebrations were water of a duck's back to Moses, who said he 'couldn't care less' that the Storm had celebrated it. Remarkably, despite being a lifelong fan of the Eels before eventually playing for the club, Moses said that if he was in the same position the Storm were, he'd have also trumpeted the success.

Moses was in high school when the Storm's salary cap story broke, and said it was 'tough' to take when that year's premiership was vacated. But also said that he could understand why the club would want to acknowledge the season they had, adding 'good on them'.

“I was a big Parra fan, in ’09 when that premiership got stripped, it was tough. (But) if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d be celebrating,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “I couldn’t care less what they do.

"Good on them, you still have to be out there, even if you’re not under the cap it’s still hard to be there at the end of the year. If that’s how they want to celebrate, that’s how they celebrate. I would probably celebrate it as well.”

Melbourne Storm greats defend controversial premiership celebration

Storm greats Billy Slater and Cameron Smith have gone in to bat for the club amid the criticism from fans, with the pair discussing the situation on the former's podcast earlier in the week. Smith said he could absolutely understand the frustration coming from fans, but argued the purpose of celebrating the '07 and '09 seasons was not to make any kind of point, but to give both Storm fans and the players involved the chance to reflect on the seasons played.

“I think it was purely an in-house thing that they were doing for the fans and the players and particularly the old boys down there,” Smith said. “There was punishment handed down at the time and the club and the players and all the administration and fans had to live through that.

“At no stage was it an opportunistic time to show it off or parade it around. The thing I want to get across is, I can understand why it’s annoyed a lot of people and that’s fine.

“As long as those people can acknowledge too that I don’t think those people understand the way that the Storm people in that period feel about it at all.”

Melbourne Storm players celebrate a try against Parramatta.
The Melbourne Storm celebrated their 25th anniversary in the NRL with a rousing win over Parramatta. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Slater was a bit more forthright with his take, questioning whether those raising an issue with the celebration believed Storm players from that era should have their career statistics wiped from the record books as well.

“I respect people’s opinion, and everyone has their right to have their opinion,” Slater said. “I understand people would disagree with celebrating that, and acknowledging that.

"But I think it’s important to understand the club’s point of view, too, and particularly the players’ point of view. The players who were involved in that era of the Melbourne Storm, that was a four-year period from 2006 to 2009, and some players were only involved in the game through that period.

“So do we just wipe their careers? Or do we acknowledge that they contributed to the game, they went through pre-seasons, they went and put their bodies on the line. If you don’t like it, just ignore it, move on with your life. ”

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