ANOTHER STITCH- UP
Cowboys target of salary cap smear
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.