Billy Slater Charged With Grade One Shoulder Charge, Faces Grand Final Ban
Billy Slater's hopes of an NRL grand final fairytale farewell are over unless he can beat a ban for a shoulder charge at the judiciary this week.
Slater was charged with a grade-one offence for his hit on Cronulla's Sosaia Feki on Friday night, meaning he will miss one match even with an early guilty plea.
The retiring superstar was penalised for the incident but not placed on report on Friday night, after he came across in cover to save a try and put Feki into touch.
Both Melbourne and the Sharks downplayed the incident after the clash, but it will be enough to end his career a match early and deny him from playing in a seventh grand final.
Slater indicated after the match he did not believe he would be charged and described the incident as an unfortunate collision.
"I wasn't worried at the time," Slater said, without having seen a replay.
"When it was a penalty I thought what was the penalty for, but then I realised I got my body in an awkward position.
"It's pretty hard to make a conventional tackle when you're going across at top speed trying to save a try like that ... It was just a collision."
Melbourne are expected to fight the charge and Slater will front the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night unless the Storm push to move the case forward.
If he is suspended Slater will also likely be banned from all on-field formalities - as was the case with South Sydney hooker Issac Luke in 2014.
The loss of Slater will be a massive blow to the Storm, given he is still close to his best despite being 317 games into his NRL career.
The fullback scored two tries and set up another in Friday night's 22-6 preliminary final win over the Sharks at AAMI Park, and also saved two tries at the back - with one being the hit on Feki.
The charge comes after Sharks coach Shane Flanagan declared on Friday night he should be free to play in the decider and stand-in captain Luke Lewis questioned how he could be suspended at all.
"What do you want him to do?" Lewis said.
"He's one of the best defensive fullbacks in the game and you have to stop a try and put your body on the line.
"If someone was to miss a game for something like that, I don't know what our game would be coming to. It's a contact sport.
"I don't think there was anything in it to be honest. If there's anyone I want see play on grand final day, it's Billy Slater."