David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Steve Matai denies phone seized in fixing probe

Manly centre and former Kiwis international Steve Matai emphatically denied he had his mobile phone seized by New South Wales police as part of their investigation into match fixing in the NRL.

Australia's Channel Seven today named Matai as the senior NRL player who had their phone confiscated by police.

However, the 32-year-old was in possession of his phone when Manly officials visited his home today and Matai angrily hit back at the reports in a statement released by the club.

"My phone has never been out of my possession and I have never been interviewed by police," said Matai. "I am humiliated by the baseless rumour and this is really upsetting for my family.

"I can't believe my name has been thrown out there like this."

Manly chief executive Joe Kelly said the club would continue to support Matai.

"Steve Matai is a life member who has played over 200 games for the club," said Kelly. "Of course we will support such an icon of our club. He has given us no reason to do otherwise over 14 years of service."

Matai's management are set to commence legal proceedings for defamation against media outlets who named Matai in reports about his phone being seized by police.

Matai has played 229 games for the Sea Eagles and appeared in 10 tests for New Zealand since beginning his career in 2005.

State police trawled through betting records at betting agencies prior to announcing earlier this week the launch of Strike Force Nuralda to further investigate allegations of corruption in the NRL.

Strike Force Nuralda is set to examine every bet placed with bookmakers on games involving Manly over the past two years and betting agencies have been asked to reveal every gambling transaction on every market for Sea Eagles games in 2015 and 2016, according to News Corp Australia.

Three NRL games - all involving Matai's club Manly - are believed to be at the centre of the probe, including two from last year, a 20-8 defeat to South Sydney in round 16 and the 20-16 loss to Parramatta in round 24.

Last month it emerged a third match, a 22-10 defeat to the Eels in April, was being scrutinised by both police and the NRL's integrity unit and Fairfax Media reported that portions of a profitable betting plunge on that round seven encounter were deposited into the TAB accounts of former Manly, Parramatta and Kiwis playmaker Kieran Foran and his older brother Liam.

Details emerged today that bookmaker Ladbrokes rejected a $30,000 deposit into Foran's betting account earlier this year.

The betting agency reportedly developed concerns regarding negative publicity surrounding the then Eels captain's gambling and refused to accept the deposit, and the amount of money is also understood to have stood out as an anomaly within his account history.

Foran strongly denied any involvement in match fixing in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in July, saying: "I've never been offered to throw a match, not once. I know that if I was that it just would not happen."

Foran's godfather and Auckland-based solicitor, Don Mackinnon, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Dozens of players, officials and members of the community are expected to be interviewed in coming months, with police warning the investigation is expected to be "protracted".

Earlier this week, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg confirmed they will support the investigation and come down hard on any players who are proven to have been involved in match fixing.

"We are not going to pre-judge any person associated with the game while this process is underway," Greenberg said. "But I repeat my earlier warning that if any person is convicted of match fixing they will face a life ban from any involvement in rugby league."

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