MATT KING says his 2007 Melbourne Storm premiership ring is not tarnished.
In fact, the former NSW and Kangaroo centre says his time at the embattled club means more to him now than ever before.
Speaking via email from his base in Warrington where he plays for the Wolves in the English Super League, King could only speak fondly of his mates and memories of the club.
“I want to say how proud I am to be a part of the Melbourne Storm family,” King said. “The players and coaching staff mean the world to me.”
And in a defiant stance, King will not let any NRL ruling taint the dream that he and his mates realised on that last Sunday in September.
“No one can take away from me what we achieved in 2007,” he said. “Those memories are some of the fondest of my life.”
Although he is more than 15,000km from home, the emotion of the whole scandal is certainly reaching the rangy three-quarter.
“If it is at all possible, I feel more proud of our achievement in 2007 than I did when we actually won,” he said.
While it has now been found that the playing group was assembled illegally, well outside the NRL’s salary cap, the grand final try-scorer believes that the premiership was built on more than big spending.
“I know how much hard work and honesty went into that season,” he said.
In what is becoming a recurrent theme emanating from the club, King stands by his mates who are now becoming embroiled in the saga.
While the NRL has thus far separated Storm players from the officials who are responsible for the massive salary cap breaches, suggestions are arising that the marquee players must have known they were being paid outside the cap.
This is an argument the Casino junior simply wont have.
“The players would have had no idea this was going on,” King said.
And he was aghast to believe that anyone inside the club could be so cunning.
“I know the honesty and hard work that goes into the Melbourne Storm as an organisation,” he said.
While the Storm has already been hit hard by the NRL and auditor Ian Schubert, there is no doubt more to be told in the coming weeks.
One thing we can be sure of: Whatever rulings the NRL make, King’s premiership ring will still take pride of place.