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The Melbourne Storm will argue Billy Slater was bracing for impact and had no other choice but to make an unconventional tackle when the retiring fullback fronts the NRL judiciary this week.

Storm officials gathered at the club's AAMI Park headquarters early on Saturday morning for a crisis meeting in fear of what was about to unfold.

The NRL usually hands down charges in the afternoon following matches, but they provided the Storm with a mid-morning heads up about Slater's predicament to give the club ample time to prepare their case.

The Storm are expected to request a Monday judiciary hearing instead of the usual Tuesday time slot to ensure minimal distraction to their preparations.

The basis of the Storm's defence

Sosaia Feki receives the ball from Ricky Leutele with an open path to the try line. Slater has no choice but to hit top speed in a bid to shut down Feki.

Billy Slater prepares to cut off Sosaia Feki
Billy Slater prepares to cut off Sosaia Feki

Feki then gets around Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu.

At this point the Sharks winger has two options and Slater has to try and decide whether Feki will step back on the inside to evade him or burrow his way over in the corner. It's the indecisiveness that prohibits Slater from getting himself in a conventional tackling position.

Billy Slater closes in on Sosaia Feki.
Billy Slater closes in on Sosaia Feki.

When it becomes apparent that Feki's intentions are to score in the corner, Slater is still in top speed and not in a position to put his head down in time to make a conventional tackle without risking the welfare of both himself and Feki.

It's at this point he begins raising his left shoulder in a bid to brace for impact. The Storm will argue there was no other alternative given the nature of the contest and the speed of which it happened.

The match review committee considers the force of the shoulder charge, but the Storm believe the force is a result of the velocity in which both players are travelling and not because of any applied force from a shoulder charge.

Billy Slater about to make impact with Sosaia Feki.
Billy Slater about to make impact with Sosaia Feki.

The Storm will also raise that at the point of impact Slater extends his right arm in what could be deemed as an attempt to wrap his arms around Feki. Any attempt to make a tackle will be viewed favourably by the judiciary panel.

Billy Slater collides with Sosaia Feki.
Billy Slater collides with Sosaia Feki.

Under NRL rules, a player can be charged if the contact is forceful and the player did not use, or attempt to use, his arms (including his hands) to tackle or otherwise take hold of the opposing player.


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