Smith a certainty for Storm NRL round one
(AAP Image/Supplied by Melbourne Storm)
Veteran prop Sam Kasiano could leave Melbourne for the Super League, easing pressure on the Storm's NRL salary cap situation and guaranteeing skipper Cameron Smith a round one start next week.
Smith said on Tuesday he had been assured a start against Brisbane in the NRL season opener next Thursday night, with moves afoot to ensure the club is salary cap compliant before then.
A recent report suggested that as the last player to sign on for the 2019 season, Smith would be sidelined - or the club not field a team at all - until they were compliant.
Smith said Melbourne chief executive Dave Donaghy told him he would be playing against the Broncos at AAMI Park.
"I've spoken to our CEO and he's very confident I'm going to be playing round one so that's all I need - his go-ahead that I'm going to be there," Smith said.
"As far as anything to do with the salary cap, that's not got anything to do with me in my role as a player.
"We're employed to play football and that's what we can control.
"My only concern was whether I would be playing but my CEO has told me there'll be no worries, I'll be available in round one."
Kasiano has also been linked to St George Illawarra to replace suspended star Jack de Belin, however it's believed he's looking at a new beginning with French Super League club Catalans Dragons.
Donaghy admitted there had been plenty of interest in the 28-year-old, who joined Melbourne last season and played 14 games.
"He's a player of interest for a number of clubs ... we understand he's exploring his opportunities," Donaghy told AAP.
The Storm boss rubbished a rumour that the club could be stopped from fielding a team against Brisbane if they weren't compliant.
"Will we field a team - yes we will be playing the Broncos on Thursday night," Donaghy said.
"How we manage our list is our own business ... but the player market is fluid and if a players get a better opportunity elsewhere then that's discussions that we have."
NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg also wasn't concerned about the Storm's plight. He said that Smith had a registered contract with the NRL.
"It's not uncommon in this point in time that clubs need to make decisions on roster management," Greenberg said.
"I assume Melbourne are in that space. They'd have some company though as clubs start to get towards the requirements and prescriptive measures about how the compliance of the cap works.
"I expect they're doing that work behind the scenes and I'm sure they'll come up with the right answer."
© AAP 2019