A 3 man disciplinary panel has found Melbourne Storm legend Billy Slater not guilty of a shoulder charge offence and he is free to play in Sunday’s NRL Grand Final against Sydney Roosters .
Slater is to retire at the end of this season and a ban would have deprived him of the chance to end his career on the highest stage . He was charged with a Grade One Shoulder Charge offence on Sharks Sosaia Feki , but pleaded not guilty stating that ‘ I was intending to get my body in front of Feki and wrap my arms. I practice this type of stuff at training. I was going at top speed and he changed, he stepped of his left foot and came square on to me and put me in a vulnerable position. Feki raised his left elbow to my head level. I turned my head and when you turn you head, naturally, your body does too. I’ve got a nanosecond to make a decision’ .
The top brass at the Storm all attended the hearing in support of Slater including Coach Craig Bellamy and CEO Dave Donaghy , along with their legal team and you do get the feeling they out smarted the panel . There is no doubt this will give the Storm a major boost as they must have feared the worst .
The Rugby League Community has been split on whether Slater should be allowed to play on Sunday but it is worth noting that he had the support of Cronulla and Sunday’s opponents the Roosters .
It certainly would have been a shame for the Maroons star to miss out and it certainly feels like this had a hand in the decision , but it will be a fitting end to a stellar career as one of the sports best ever full backs .