Billy Slater (right) studies his judiciary notes on the private jet ahead of the hearing on Tuesday night.
Billy Slater (right) studies his judiciary notes on the private jet ahead of the hearing on Tuesday night.

Slater & Ghabar: How Billy outsmarted NRL’s legal eagles

AFTER a marathon judiciary hearing that went for almost three hours, retiring Melbourne fullback Billy Slater is free to play in the grand final.

Slater and his team, headed up by lawyer Nick Ghabar, managed to convince the three-member panel of Mal Cochrane, Bob Lindner and Sean Garlick that he was not guilty of a grade one shoulder charge on Cronulla winger Sosaia Feki in the preliminary final.

So how did they do it?

In "unpredecendented scenes" according to Fox Sports chief NRL reporter James Hooper, Slater stood up twice to personally demonstrate the incident to the panel.

Before the verdict, Hooper believed Slater and Ghabar's arguments were "extraordinarily strong", with the Storm champion claiming he'd been clocked at 33km per hour at training which meant he had a split second to make a decision in the tackle.

 

Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater (left) is seen leaving League Central after his shoulder charge hearing.
Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater (left) is seen leaving League Central after his shoulder charge hearing.

 

"He is adamant he only had a nanosecond when he braced for that contact with Sosaia Feki," Hooper told NRL 360.

"Nick Ghabar, the defence counsel for the Melbourne Storm, he mounted an extremely strong case.

"He got Billy Slater to stand up and actually walk the judiciary panel through exactly what was going through his head when he executed that tackle and that play on Sosaia Feki.

"Billy even went as far as to say that he's meticulous in his preparation for games. He watched every single try Sosaia Feki had scored in the NRL this season in the lead-up to the game.

 

Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater (centre) and Craig Bellamy (right) are seen at NRL Central for his shoulder charge judiciary hearing.
Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater (centre) and Craig Bellamy (right) are seen at NRL Central for his shoulder charge judiciary hearing.

 

"Every try Sosaia Feki had scored, he had pinned his ears back and gone for the corner.

"A crucial part of Billy's defence was that at some point, Feki decided to step off his left foot, change his line and make eye contact and actually change the trajectory of his body and form a collision with Billy.

"Billy was adamant he always had eyes for the corner post and he always had an intention to go flat out and try and execute an arm tackle that was wrapping his arms around Feki.

"Feki's decision, Billy maintains, is what forced the collision to unfold the way that it did."

Slater also claimed the most of the force on Feki came from his hip which he said still tender four days after the game.

Slater disagreed with the NRL's counsel that he didn't try to wrap his arms around Feki and that he tried to grab Feki's right arm with his left hand.

 

Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater after being found not guilty.
Melbourne Storm NRL player Billy Slater after being found not guilty.

 

"I'd just like to thank the judiciary members for a fair hearing," Slater said following the hearing.

"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 so that starts as of now.

"I'd also like to thank Nick my lawyer, the club of the Melbourne Storm, they've really helped my over the last four days to put this case together.

"Now it's time to think about the grand final."



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