Phil Gould backs divisive Billy Slater tackle with interesting defence


A shoulder charge was the least dangerous option Billy Slater
could have used in his try-saving collision with Sharks winger
Sosaia Feki, and both players survived injury scares for it.

That’s the opinion of rugby league guru Phil Gould who has
expressed an interesting defence for the Melbourne fullback with
his career hanging by a thread.

Slater is set to miss a fairytale grand final finish in his last
ever NRL game after the Match Review Committee slapped him with a
grade one dangerous contact charge for his shot on Feki in Friday
night’s preliminary final.

NRL Finals: Billy Slater charged by the judiciary, grand final in

With nothing to lose, Storm football director Frank Ponissi
announced the club will fight the charge at the judiciary, and his
lawyers may want to take Gould’s argument into account.

”Billy Slater risks serious injury to himself with any other
kind of tackle under the circumstances,” Gould tweeted.

”These players are at full speed. The best result for both
players was the collision that took place. Less danger for both. No
one injured. Play on.

”…Any rule that penalises the collision Billy Slater executed
to save a try for his team is a bad rule. Said this ever since the
ban on so-called shoulder charges first introduced.

”Over zealous policing of shoulder charge leads us to
undesirable outcome. Needs to be case by case.”

Gould also shared a message he received from former NRL
judiciary chairman Paul Conlon who suggested Slater ”embraced”
for the hit and put his opponent in ”no danger”.

Already organising their case, Ponissi was confident they could
convince the judiciary to overturn the charge and the superstar
No.1 would lace up the boots for one last time.

“Since last night we’ve been onto our defence team and we want
to give him the best possible chance to play next Sunday night,” he
told Triple M NRL.

“Certainly it’s one where we believe we’ve got a good case.

“For us it’s a difficult one because it’s not your conventional
shoulder charge where two players are running directly at each

“This is a unique situation where a bloke is flying at
incredible speed into a corner and a player comes back. So we
believe there’s enough in that to mount a really good case.”

Melbourne are pushing for the hearing to be brought back a day
on Monday to avoid any interruptions to their grand final

If found guilty, youngsters Jahrome Hughes and Scott Drinkwater
are the front runners to take Slater’s place, while Cameron Munster
is also capable of wearing the fullback responsibilities.


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