Cooper Cronk, Dallas Johnson and Billy Slater celebrate the Melbourne Storm's 2007 premiership win.
Cooper Cronk, Dallas Johnson and Billy Slater celebrate the Melbourne Storm's 2007 premiership win.

Former teammate could decide Slater’s fate

A FORMER premiership winning teammate of Billy Slater and an ex-Roosters skipper could hold the fate of Slater's grand final dreams in their hands.

Dallas Johnson and Sean Garlick are among the five judiciary panel members who have been used by the NRL this season and could again be part of the panel Tuesday night. Under NRL rules there is nothing to preclude the likes of Johnson and Garlick from sitting in the judgement on the Slater hearing.

Johnson, Garlick, Queensland legend Bob Lindner as well as Tony Puletua and Mal Cochrane are the five panel members who have been used by the NRL this year.

Johnson spent seven years playing alongside Slater at the Storm winning two grand finals while Garlick played 64 games from 1994 to 1997 to for the Roosters including a stint as captain. The former hooker was on the panel which saw Roosters centre Latrell Mitchell banned for last week's preliminary final.

Slater could miss the grand final.
Slater could miss the grand final.

The NRL refused to confirm which three panel members will sit in on the most anticipated judiciary hearing this season. A guilty verdict would rub Slater out of his final match of the season before retirement.

It is understood Slater will be called-upon to testify at the hearing. He has played a large role in mounting his defence.

The Storm will argue Slater's tackle on Cronulla winger Sosaia Feki was not a shoulder charge but rather a collision as he attempted to make a tackle.

Garlick captained the Roosters in the mid 90s.
Garlick captained the Roosters in the mid 90s.

The Storm considered drafting in Feki as a witness but concerns regarding the optics surrounding Feki's unrelated shoulder injury was a concern to Storm officials. They have also rejected the help of a human movement specialist.

Instead they will use the highly fancied Nick Ghabar who flew to Melbourne on Monday to help mount Slater's defence. Ghabar was successful in clearing Justin Hodges as the judiciary in the lead up to the 2015 grand final. They will also have Melbourne-based QC Chris Townshend assisting.

Teammate Cameron Munster said it was a "50/50 call".

"Who knows with the judiciary," Munster said. "Some tackles look really bad, some don't look really bad and they get cited and they get weeks. It is unfortunate foot Bill.

"He is such a champion bloke and a champion player. Our club will do everything to get him off. "They were both running at speed. Feki came back in off his left foot, he braced himself to stop the try.

Slater trained with the Storm on Monday. AAP Image/Stefan Postles.
Slater trained with the Storm on Monday. AAP Image/Stefan Postles.

"There have been a couple of tackles during the year that haven't been cited.

"He is a competitor and wants to win. He had his right arm wrapped around. Hopefully the judiciary makes the right decision and lets him play."

A sponsor-provided private jet will fly Slater and the Storm staff including coach Craig Bellamy and football manager Frank Ponissi to Sydney on Tuesday. The group will return to Melbourne late Tuesday night ahead of a training session Wednesday before they return to Sydney with the rest of the squad later that day.

Slater trained with the team on Monday in front of about 5000 fans in an opening training session.

Halves Brodie Croft and Cameron Munster did not train in the Storm's first field session this week but are not in doubt to play.

Prop Tim Glasby was on restricted duties because of a rib injury.



Bundy renter's battle for bond heading to court

premium_icon Bundy renter's battle for bond heading to court

Tenant fighting real estate as tensions mount

HOT PROPERTY: Rental vacancies halve in Bundy

premium_icon HOT PROPERTY: Rental vacancies halve in Bundy

Renting game heats up with lack of vacancies.