The Sydney Roosters and the National Rugby league on Tuesday dismissed a rumour the league leaders were under salary cap investigation as betting agencies suspended gambling on the 2004 season wooden spoon.
Most of the country's leading betting agencies stopped betting on the team to finish last in the 2004 competition as the wild rumour of another Bulldogs-type saga - this time involving the Roosters - swept through rugby league.
The Roosters' wooden spoon odds were slashed from $500 to $50, with SportsTAB taking 28 bets on the wooden spoon this morning - all on the Roosters - before suspending the market.
Roosters chief executive Brian Canavan was as bemused as anyone by the speculation.
"All our salary cap figures were presented to the NRL back in March along with every other club and there is no inquiry," Canavan said.
It's understood the plunge started after a talkback caller rang a Sydney radio station to say the Roosters were in salary cap trouble.
Some punters obviously sensed a repeat of the 2002 season drama, when the Bulldogs were docked 37 points and fined $500,000 over salary cap breaches, with the penalty sending the club from first place to last and seeing them finish with the wooden spoon.
The NRL went on the front foot over the Roosters rumour, denying the club was in any trouble.
"There's absolutely no special investigation underway looking at the Roosters or any other club for that matter," said NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley.
"The normal salary cap audit process continues and as far as we are aware this rumour is a result of someone trying to place a bet."
SportsTAB's Glenn Munsie said things got out of hand as the rumour gathered momentum and punters jumped on board.
"It was an off the cuff moment this morning. I said (on radio) a bloke had had $100 on them at 500-1," Munsie said.
"The phones have been ringing off the hook since 8.30 this morning, people wanting to back them to come last.
"We have got more out of them (Roosters) in the last two days than we have in the previous 30 weeks.
"We have to protect (the punters). They get caught up in the hype."
Centrebet's Gerard Daffy said the rumours were "fabricated".
"There's no evidence anywhere that's likely to happen," he said.
"There's all these people out there thinking they're going to put one over on the bookmakers."Like