CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Suliasi Vunivalu of the Storm flys through the air as he scores a try during the round two NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium on March 22, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Ben Elias has slammed the NRL’s decision to fine Melbourne Storm $10,000 for time wasting against Parramatta in last weekend’s qualifying final, suggesting the club should have been hit with a $100,000 fine instead.

The fine comes following Melbourne’s win over the Eels on Saturday, where play was brought to a halt as a Storm trainer looked to treat winger Suliasi Vunivalu for a cramp injury.

“This is the greatest abuse of power that I’ve ever seen,” Elias said on NRL 360. 

“$10,000 is an absolute pinch. It was a critical time in the game, the Storm knew tactically to slow the game down, put your hand up and say this bloke has got a cramp.

“Honestly, it should have been $100,000… stop abusing the system”

The incident came right as the Eels were on the attack and trailing by 12 points, with the halted play allowing Melbourne to re-configure their defensive structure and buying them more time.

“The rules are pretty clear about when trainers should signal to the referee to stop the game and that’s when a doctor is required on the field,” NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said on Monday ahead of an investigation into the incident.

“It is (easy to manipulate) and that is why there has to be the prospect for breaches.

“It can’t rest with the referees because you can bet your life that the moment they allow play to play on a player will have a serious injury and then we will have a major problem.

“Referees just can’t ignore a request from a trainer. We have seen referees in the past be criticised heavily for allowing play to continue while players are injured.

“But they are not in a position to judge that. They have to take the advice of the trainers and the trainers have to exercise their responsibilities.”