Former Judiciary Chair “There was no factoring in that this was Billy Slater’s last game.”
Melbourne Storm superstar Billy Slater’s fate has been sealed ahead of the 2018 NRL Grand final – he has been found NOT GUILTY of a grade one shoulder charge and will play against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday at ANZ Stadium.
Slater was charged after coming together with Cronulla winger Sosaia Feki, while saving a try early in the first half of his side’s preliminary final victory.
He elected to fight the charge at the NRL Judiciary, arguing he was put in a “vulnerable position” as a result of the Sharks winger stepping back in, suggesting he had less time to react to the situation.
The 35-year-old’s lawyer Nick Ghabar – who famously helped Justin Hodges get off a dangerous throw charge ahead of the 2015 Grand Final argued Slater’s initial contact was from his left pectoral and not his shoulder.
The three-man judiciary panel consisting of Sean Garlick, Bob Lindner and Mal Cochrane took two hours and 46 minutes to come to the result including a marathon deliberation.
Former NRL Judiciary Chairman Paul Conlon told Macquarie Sports Radio Mornings, “There was no factoring in that this was the Grand Final or Billy Slater’s last game.”
Slater addressed the media briefly once the hearing concluded.
“I’d just like to thank the judiciary members for a fair hearing,” Slater said.
“It was important for me tonight to get my point across and what my intentions were in this incident.
“Now it’s important for me to focus on the game, I haven’t started my preparation for the game as yet, that starts now.
“I would also like to thank Nick my lawyer and the club of the Melbourne Storm, they’ve really helped me over the last four days put this case together, now it’s time to think about the grand final.”
Slater did not take any questions.
The result now means the 318-game, one-club veteran will now have a shot at a dream fairytale on Sunday evening.
The 35-year-old was also apart of the elusive big three alongside Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk and has won two Clive Churchill Medals, two premierships and has played over 30 matches for both Queensland and Australia.
Attention will now turn to the opposite side of the spectrum with Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk in severe doubt for the finale with a left rotator-cuff injury.
He was named on the Reserves list in jumper 23, with Mitch Aubusson to wear the seven jersey, although it is unlikely he will play at halfback.
The decider will kick-off at 7:20PM on Sunday evening.