The three Melbourne players at the centre of the white powder scandal will be forced to explain their actions to club legends and supporters – and personally front their sponsors as part of their penance for bringing the Storm and game into disrepute.
The NRL and the Storm will hand down their sanctions to Cameron Munster, Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis on Tuesday morning, the first step towards drawing the curtain on an unsavoury incident for Melbourne and the game.
Warriors teenager Reece Walsh will also be sanctioned by the NRL after he was caught by police with a bag of cocaine last week.
The Storm trio were initially expected to miss up to four games, although head office is understood to have relaxed their stance on lengthy suspensions for fear of hurting the club and their fans.
It is understood the three players will miss at the most two games – and potentially as little as one – after being filmed in a room with white powder while celebrating the end of their season a week ago.
Camera IconBrandon Smith. Credit: Supplied
Camera IconCameron Munster. Credit: Supplied
However, they are expected to be hit hard in the hip pocket given the damage they have done to the game’s image in the lead-up to the grand final, with fines of up to $40,000 from the NRL.
The Storm will hand down their own punishments on Tuesday morning against the players. Melbourne are expected to announce a myriad of sanctions against the players but at the heart of their penalties will be the trio fronting up and explaining their actions to the club’s most important stakeholders.
The players are expected to personally front the media on Tuesday as well as the club’s corporate supporters. They will also send a video message to the members as well as former players in the Storm’s old boys network – former captain and teammate Cameron Smith was one of the most outspoken critics of the Storm trio, lambasting them on radio station SEN.
Camera IconBrandon Smith and Cameron Munster. Alex Coppel Credit: News Corp Australia
Smith no doubt spoke for the vast majority of the old boys, who have helped frame the famed culture of the Melbourne Storm. That culture has come under the microscope in the days after Munster, Smith and Lewis became headline news.
The players were all interviewed by the integrity unit and it is understood they told the NRL and their club that they had scratchy memories of the incident in question, having celebrated long and hard after their season came to an end.
The Storm were criticised for not immediately getting on the front foot when footage emerged of their players, but they won support from NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo on Monday as he prepared to finalise his sanctions against the players.
“The Storm made us aware of this,” Abdo said.
“They have been cooperating and we have worked on this together. You have to treat each matter on its merits … and every matter is complex. The appropriate sanction is thought about carefully in light of all the facts.
The NRL was rocked by a series of incidents in the lead-up to Sunday night’s grand final, culminating in a police charge against departing Canterbury forward Ofahiki Ogden.
Ogden will only be dealt with by the NRL should he land a club for next season. However, the Storm trio and Walsh are all contracted players and as such will face penalties for their actions.
It is understood Walsh will be the hardest hit in comparison to the Storm players given he was arrested by police and admitted to taking cocaine.
However, Munster is likely to be on the end of the heaviest sanctions given he is the highest-paid and highest-profile of the players.Internet Explorer Channel Network