NRL chief executive David Gallop meted out $50,000 worth of leadership today as the league imposed a record fine on Melbourne for comments from their coach Craig Bellamy and chief executive Brian Waldron following the club’s 28-0 preliminary final victory over Cronulla last night.

In the post-match press conference, Bellamy said suspended skipper Cameron Smith had not been given a fair go, while Waldron criticised the NRL’s leadership and their system which allowed Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart to comment on Smith’s tackle on Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday before Wednesday night’s hearing.

The NRL today ruled the comments damaged the integrity of their judiciary panel and the game’s judiciary processes.

The game’s ruling body interpreted the remarks as clear accusations from the Storm that “judiciary officials were unduly influenced by the media, that the result of their hearing was somehow pre-determined and that other parties were somehow aware of this”.

“Last night, the Melbourne Storm coach and chief executive officer launched an unprecedented, premeditated attack on the NRL and its judiciary system, the accusations they made were irrational, baseless and at times bordered on hysteria,” Gallop said.

The fine is the largest ever imposed on an NRL club for making comments about the system.

Waldron said the club had received verbal notification from Gallop of the fine would and review its position after receiving written confirmation of the alleged breach.

“Given no formal notification has been received, we think it would be inappropriate to make any formal complaint on the matter until such time,” Waldron said in a statement.

“I have discussed with David some key points raised in the post-match press conference last night and we have agreed to address those relevant issues in the appropriate forum, that being the NRL CEOs conference at the season’s end.”

Bellamy told the media last night Smith had not got a fair go and felt the representative hooker had been “hung out to dry”, claiming some sections of the media had an agenda against Melbourne and the grapple tackle.

“It’s my player that misses out on a grand final opportunity and I think he’s been hard done by here,” Bellamy said.

Waldron was critical of the NRL’s system which allowed coaches and officials to make comments before judiciary hearings, as Stuart had done before Smith’s case and stressed that wasn’t allowed in some other sports.

“It questions the integrity of our game at the core and we need some leadership to fix it,” he said.

Gallop responded to Waldron’s comments about leadership by describing it as “a cheap shot”.

“Here’s some leadership today — $50,000 for stepping over the clear line in the sand that has been in place for many years,” Gallop said.

He said he didn’t believe the NRL should attempt to gag people.

“Opinion is part of the bump and scrape of rugby league, but when you step over the line and attack the integrity of individuals who work in the game, you will get a fine,” Gallop said.

While he said he was aware of subsequent comments retracting those made last night, Gallop suggested the damage had already been done.

“Once you put these types of allegations out there, they damage the integrity of the game, they damage the integrity of individuals who are charged with the task of conducting our judiciary process,” Gallop said.

While the NRL normally waits until after the end of a round to impose fines for critical comments, Gallop stressed action was taken promptly on this occasion because there weren’t eight games this week.

“This was a clear stepping over the line, in fact it was a world long jump record for this type of attack and we perfectly able to deal with this today,” Gallop said.

He said the punishment wouldn’t have any impact on any potential leave for appeal Melbourne might lodge on Smith’s case.

Gallop described as nonsense the suggestion that a high-profile player like Smith was being made a scapegoat and reacted similarly when asked if a possible striking charge on Storm prop Brett White for elbowing Cronulla’s Ben Ross would be treated any differently.

A lawyer by trade, Gallop said members of the judiciary could be entitled to look at taking legal action if they considered Bellamy’s comments defamatory.

Bellamy’s post-match comments about the betting market on the probability of Smith being suspended also attracted the NRL’s ire.

“The other thing that was very smelly about the whole lot was when I saw in the paper on Wednesday morning and there’s a betting market — $1.18 he’s going to be found guilty, $4.25 he’ll be found innocent,” Bellamy said.

“That’s a fair spread in a two horse race.

“Bookmakers and betting agencies, they don’t guess. They’ve got good information — take that as you may.

“As soon as I saw that on Wednesday morning … he was thousands.”

Gallop stressed the NRL couldn’t control what aspects of sports betting people punted on.

Gallop denied that the tackling dramas which have consistently surrounded the Storm were making them a “pain the ***” and said the NRL didn’t hate Melbourne.