This article has nothing to do with the probability Billy Slater will miss next Sunday’s grand final if he’s found guilty of a shoulder charge from last night’s preliminary final against the Sharks.
It would be a tragedy if the 35-year-old fullback, arguably one of rugby league’s greatest footballers, ended his stellar career suspended, forced to watch his Storm teammates in the decider from the stand.
If he’s done the crime, he must do the time – there’s no argument.
But did Slater actually shoulder charge in the true meaning of the law?
Law-makers brought in the rule to stop defenders shoulder charging front-on and not using their arms.
That’s obviously a very dangerous ‘tackle’ of two players coming from opposite directions in a very physical collision.
That could create serious injuries like whip-lash where the spinal cord could be severed, and if the shoulder contact is lower causing busted ribs, and punctured lungs.
Not on – a very wise, and long overdue, law change.
But Slater wasn’t front-on, he was side-on to Sharks winger Sosaia Feki.
He came from 90 degrees, where Slater’s left shoulder first came into contact with Feki’s right shoulder.
And Slater’s right arm was clearly visible across Feki’s chest, with Slater’s right arm across Feki’s left shoulder.
So it was never front-on, and Slater’s right arm was involved in the tackle.
Those are two damn good reasons why it didn’t qualify with the letter of the law of a front-on, no arms collision – a shoulder charge.
In fact, I very much doubt law-makers ever had a side-on shoulder charge in mind. They just wanted to rightfully stamp out the extremely dangerous front-on shoulder charge with no arms involved.
That hasn’t stopped the knockers going into meltdown on social media demanding Slater’s suspension, with many adding Feki should have been awarded a penalty try.
What a load of hysterical crap.
And only because it’s superstar Billy Slater for some tall-poppy chopping.
What makes it even more farcical is Slater is the smaller man by some distance.
He’s 178 cms tall, stopping scales at 89 kgs – Feki is 188 and 101 – no wonder Slater bounced off the Tongan.
So on the evidence of countless television replays, if Billy Slater is rubbed out of the big dance it will be a travesty of justice, and not what the law-makers had in mind when they brought the shoulder charge into play.