Slater charged, grand final in doubt

Melbourne Storm star Billy Slater will have to front the NRL judiciary to earn the right to play in next Sunday's grand final after he was charged with a grade one shoulder charge by the match review committee.

Slater was pinged for a shoulder charge on Cronulla's Sosaia Feki in the 14th minute of Friday night's preliminary final at AAMI Park, and will need to successfully fight the charge in Sydney next week to play in the decider.

Retiring at the end of the season, Slater may have played his last game.

The NRL usually host judiciary on Tuesday, however the Storm will be provided the opportunity of an earlier hearing to ensure minimal distraction to their grand final preparations.

The 35-year-old fullback was hit with a grade one charge worth 200 points, knocking him out of the premiership decider unless he fights and wins.

"I was going across in desperation to save the try," Slater said at the post-match media conference.

"I was at top speed. Sosaia Feki was at top speed. I actually thought he was going to step inside me so that's why I got my body in an unconventional position.

"It's pretty hard to make a conventional tackle when you're going across at top speed trying to stop a try. It was just an unfortunate collision."

If Slater is ruled out, versatile Storm utility Jahrome Hughes is the most likely candidate to fill Slater's shoes at fullback in the grand final against the winner of Saturday night's preliminary final between the Roosters and Rabbitohs.

The Storm could also move Cameron Munster to fullback, where he has filled in for Slater in the past, and partner Hughes with Brodie Croft in the halves.

The most unlikely option would be shuffling Cameron Smith to the halves and playing Brandon Smith at hooker.

Not surprisingly, the Storm will contest the charge, given that the prospect of him entering an early plea would still rule him out for one match.

"If we are given that opportunity we'll strongly consider it," Storm football manager Frank Ponissi told Triple-M's 'Footy Show' on Saturday.

"From our point of view, the earlier the better. We'd prefer to know as early as possible if Billy is playing or not playing, as you can appreciate there'll be a fair bit of media over the next few days. The sooner we have that meeting, the better."

Ponissi said everyone involved with the club had experienced varying emotions since Friday night's win.

"We were obviously worried with all the talk going around, to hoping he didn't get charged but now to reality that he is charged," Ponissi said.

"We've got to move on from disappointment and prepare the best possible case for Billy, whether it's Monday or Tuesday night, to fight the charge.

"All our focus now is doing that but at the same time not allowing to distract the rest of the team's preparation for the biggest game of the year."

He said Slater would be involved in all the discussions on how the Storm's defence would be mounted.

"One thing about Billy is that's he an incredibly intelligent player and he's spoken already about what's happened," Ponissi said.

"It's not your conventional shoulder charge when two people are running head-long at each other. It's a case of someone flying at speed into a corner and another coming across."

 

 
Player  Jake Friend
Club  Roosters
Minute of match  12th
Charge/incident  Dangerous throw
Charge grade  1
7yrs incident free discount? No
Base penalty 100
Penalty: Early plea 75
Guilty 100
Prior Similar Offences in last 2 years (50% loading) 0
Prior Non-similar Offences in last 2 years (20% loading) 0
Carryover points  0
Misconduct on whom? Greg Inglis

 

 
Player  Billy Slater
Club  Storm
Minute of match  14th
Charge/incident  Shoulder charge
Charge grade  1
7yrs incident free discount? No
Base penalty 200
Penalty: Early plea 150
Guilty 200
Prior Similar Offences in last 2 years (50% loading) 0
Prior Non-similar Offences in last 2 years (20% loading) 0
Carryover points  0
Misconduct on whom? Sosaia Feki

 

 

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