Ladies and gentlemen, the wait is nearly over, because after nine weeks in hibernation we finally have some live NRL action to look forward to this weekend.
Billy Slater’s defence team will attempt to have his grand final ban overturned by leveraging an ancient legal precedent from almost 96 hours ago, arguing his tackle was “no worse than being naked on Facetime.”
The team will also tender the results of an internal review in to the tackle, which was deemed unpunishable and “consensual” by a panel of judges from the Storm and Queensland’s banana belt.
To further underpin their argument, new footage of the tackle will also be presented showing Slater’s face conveniently obscured by a Rabbitohs emblem.
Melbourne are confident the fresh evidence can cornerstone its challenge against the fullback’s two match ban for an alleged shoulder charge on Cronulla’s Sosaia Feki.
Slater’s judiciary hearing to determine his dream finale is set down for this Tuesday night, thus leaving grand final week one hyperbaric chamber short of a royal flush.
The Storm believe they have a strong case after their internal review reportedly concluded it was not a shoulder charge, but a selfless attempt to save the Sharks winger from impaling himself on the corner post.
The panel also determined the footage obscures the act of Slater tiptoeing towards Feki with a bunch of flowers, which he was planning to deliver to some sick kids.
The Storm’s legals also plan to present comparisons to the court proving the severity of his tackle is minor alongside other various acts of foul play, with most examples being Slater horizontal with studs-up.
But should the Storm’s primary argument fail, they will ultimately plea that the NRL cannot ban a player whose name is “already engraved on the Clive Churchill Medal.”
Slater’s ban presents a delicate scenario for the game’s administration, with many comparing the possible destruction of his swansong to the cold-blooded slaughtering of a Bambi with breathtaking quads.
Public debate is split, with one side pleading for consistency, while the other advocating for leniency because it’s “not his go” and it’s his “last game” and he’s “not a communist.”
As for the NRL, its prosecution team has reportedly hired a “specialist” legal representative for Tuesday’s hearing to ensure it “achieves its desired result.”
The NRL’s argument will be headed by a little-known ‘consultant’ who simply describes himself as “Honest Randy”.
While nowhere to be located on any legal register, Honest Randy worked extensively on the Strike Force Nuralda match-fixing probe as a suspect, and prides himself on “delivering preferred outcomes.”
Additionally, he has worked closely with Tim Simona and Sally Robinson, and is also the great grandson of notorious referee Darcy Lawler.
When pressed on whether he has been hired to conduct one of history’s greatest courtroom tankings in an elaborate manipulation of legal procedure to appease both sides of a fiery debate about Slater that is impossible for the NRL to win, he replied “What’s a courtroom?”
But despite promising a case with “only one possible outcome”, Honest Randy says he will graciously accept whatever decision is handed down by the NRL’s three-man judiciary panel of Mal Meninga, Craig Bellamy and Billy Slater.