ANOTHER STITCH- UP

Cowboys tar­get of salary cap smear

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY

SYD­NEY has shown it is again out to de­rail the North Queens­land Cowboys’ run to a maiden premier­ship af­ter base­less al­le­ga­tions of salary cap cheat­ing were yesterday lev­elled against the club.

The NRL im­me­di­ately cleared the Cowboys of any wrong­do­ing fol­low­ing claims by a Syd­ney news­pa­per that a num­ber of high- pro­file play­ers had wrongly ac­quired prop­er­ties from club chair­man and prop­erty devel­oper Lau­rence Lancini. Mr Lancini ( above) yesterday guar­an­teed the club had not breached the guide­lines and said he hoped the al­le­ga­tions were not aired sim­ply be­cause two Queens­land clubs were dom­i­nat­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.

SYD­NEY is again out to de­rail the North Queens­land Cowboys’ premier­ship bid af­ter base­less al­le­ga­tions of salary cap cheat­ing were yesterday lev­elled against the club.

The NRL im­me­di­ately cleared the Cowboys of any wrong­do­ing fol­low­ing a re­port by a Syd­ney news­pa­per of a num­ber of high- pro­file play­ers ac­quir­ing prop­er­ties from club chair­man and mil­lion­aire devel­oper Lau­rence Lancini.

Mr Lancini yesterday guar­an­teed the club hadn’t breached salary cap guide­lines and said he hoped the al­le­ga­tions weren’t ma­li­cious be­cause two Queens­land clubs were sit­ting on top of the lad­der.

NRL sources yesterday laid the blame on a Syd­ney- based club which likely leaked the in­for­ma­tion to the Syd­ney Morn

ing Her­ald for max­i­mum dam­age against the sec­ond­placed Cowboys.

It comes af­ter the club’s hopes of a maiden premier­ship have been de­railed by the NRL over the past three years with the in­fa­mous Manly “hand of God” try in 2012, the sev­enth tackle try to Cronulla in 2013 and the knock- on call in last year’s semi- fi­nal which saw a match- win­ning try called back.

Mr Lancini said none of his prop­erty sales to 10 cur­rent and for­mer Cowboys play­ers were dis­counted, and he made no apolo­gies for ad­vis­ing play­ers on in­vest­ments.

“I’ve been with the club for many years and have al­ways said pub­licly that if we build bet­ter men, we build a bet­ter club,” he said.

“I’ve been very open with NRL chair­man Dave Smith who has been in town with NRL head of in­tegrity Nick Weeks. We’ve told them if they have any con­cerns we will open our books again and there’ll be to­tal trans­parency. Their ad­vice was we’ve got noth­ing to in­ves­ti­gate.”

A to­tal of 10 high- pro­file Cowboys – in­clud­ing Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou – have bought prop­er­ties from com­pa­nies con­nected to Mr Lancini.

A search of prop­erty records shows seven Cowboys play­ers who pur­chased blocks in the Bohle Plains paid higher than the me­dian price in the area. Thurston’s pur­chase of a high- end Mitchell St apart­ment was the same price as sim­i­larly- sized apart­ments in the com­plex.

For­mer Cowboys chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Jour­dain said all of the prop­erty sales were com­mer­cially ne­go­ti­ated.

“I don’t re­ally un­der­stand why there’s a story in it,” Mr Jour­dain said.

“The fact that Lau­rence and oth­ers have helped play­ers to in­vest in own homes and other prop­er­ties for me is ex­actly what they should be do­ing.”

Mr Weeks, said au­di­tors had al­ready re­viewed some of the prop­erty deals and no fur­ther ac­tion was re­quired.

All the houses were built by for­mer Cowboys player and club spon­sor Martin Locke who had pre­vi­ously been em­ployed as the club’s busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager.

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