Last night we saw two premiership favourites colliding in battle in round 22 of the National Rugby League competition in Australia, I believe we should revisit history to the infamous salary cap scandal of the Melbourne Storm and examine how things could have gone different.
In what was one of the biggest sporting scandals in Australian history on the 22nd of April 2010 the Melbourne Storm were found to be cheating the salary cap of the NRL competition, the fall out of this was enormous as the Storm lost the 2007 and 2009 premierships and were told they would have to dismantle the team they assembled. As history has now shown us the Storm have bounced back but the results of what they did in 2010 had interesting effects around the league.

When the Storm had to dismantle their team in 2010, they knew they wouldn't be able to keep hold of their big four elite players (Inglis, Slater, Smith and Cronk) they crunched the numbers and knew at best they would be able to keep three of the four but the question was who should we keep? It had to be a hard choice at the time. Cronk was consistently improving as a player and was seen as a leader around the club who often ran the training sessions to implement his style, Smith is the best dummy half the game has seen since Steve Walters and had at that stage captained both his country and State, Billy Slater was the face of rugby league in Melbourne and was crucial to the growth of the game down south.

That left us with Inglis and through no fault of his own from the moment Inglis arrived at the club he was the outsider of the group, his best position was always fullback at which he had dominating the Queensland Cup with the Norths Devils but seeing as Slater could only play one position Inglis was made to adapt or leave the Storm through his own choice.

Looking back on this decision it must of been interesting to see how close Melbourne weighed up the option of keeping Inglis instead of Slater. Slater was the proven commodity but Inglis is younger and probably more gifted than Slater. The other point is that Melbourne will face tough times when all of the big three hit the down side of their career's and eventually retire at a similar point where as Inglis would have made Melbourne competitive even after Smith and Cronk eventually left the club.

So what does all this mean? Well lets just say Melbourne choose Inglis over the Slater, where would we be in 2013?

Well Billy Slater would be on the open market, obviously the Broncos would be interested in him and the most likely landing spot for him seeing as they had quite a bit of cap space after Folau had bailed for his cash grab AFL deal. Inglis had been training with the Broncos in the off season and looked likely to sign with them before he backed out of the deal to end up with Souths. Slater being from Queensland would land with the Broncos quite easily for mine and would likely play out his career with the club.

So what happens with the Broncos?

In 2011 the Broncos finished 3rd with a loss to the eventual premiership winners in Manly in the preliminary final 18-10 and that was without Darren Lockyer who suffered a broken jaw in the game prior, had they had both Lockyer and Slater the Broncos may have had premiership glory in 2011.

In 2012 there is a realistic possibility that Slater would become club captain ahead of Sam Thaiday who somehow had trumped Corey Parker of this responsibility, they would have also likely finished higher than 8th and in 2013 they wouldn't be desperately struggling to make the finals with 5 weeks to go. This would also mean that players like Peter Wallace would likely be in good favor at the club rather than being unwanted for the 2014 season and Anthony Griffen would also be considered as one of the premier coaches instead of being on the hot seat like he currently is.

That's the Broncos but what about Souths Sydney? Well Souths don't get Inglis which means they probably resign Chris Sandow to a big contract before John Lang is removed from coaching. This would result in Adam Reynolds not having the rookie season he did in 2012 and if he doesn't get any playing time in the top grade it likely means in 2013 he is playing for another club in the NRL.

Who would be the head coach of Souths as Maguire may not considering Souths an worthy option at the time due to having success with Wigan at the time and if Maguire doesn't join Souths he can't bring Jeff Lima and Matt King with him to add the Melbourne Storm playing culture. If Maguire doesn't join, he doesn't point out the fact Dave Taylor is overrated and Souths will over pay him (like Sandow) instead of recruiting Ben Teo who would likely be having success at the Broncos with Billy Slater.

There is a lot of interesting questions to make out of the fact if Inglis didn't change his mind to join Brisbane or if Melbourne had kept Inglis would Souths be a top 4 powerhouse in the NRL for two years straight? unlikely.

Without the Success they have had in the last two years does Russell Crowe end up bailing out of the club due his personal issues rather than keeping hold of it? Potentially, which would be devastating since the club has come a long way since it rejoined the competition.

Of course there are endless possibilities with this theory as Billy Slater could have went back to his home town and played for the Cowboys which would force Matt Bowen to another club. Regardless it's interesting to note how one CEO's decision to cheat the system can have such a wide affect on the competition and that in 2013 one decision back in 2010 may have shaped two franchises long term future more than anyway really knows.