MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Billy Slater of the Storm applies a shoulder charge on Sosaia Feki of the Sharks to stop him from scoring a try during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park on September 21, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

Melbourne were relatively untroubled by the Sharks on Friday night and have booked a spot in their third successive grand final, although they’ve be sweating on the availability of star fullback Billy Slater.

Slater will be retiring at season’s end, but he may have already played his last game, after he was penalised for a shoulder charge on Sosaia Feki in the 14th minute.

While the 35-year-old wasn’t placed on report for the incident, he was penalised for it, and the match review committee could cite him for the should charge.

A grade one shoulder charge is worth 200 demerit points, meaning if Slater is charged with a grade one offence or higher, he could join fellow teammate Cameron Smith (2008) in missing out on a grand final due to suspension.

However, Slater even has opposition players in his corner, with retiring Shark Luke Lewis coming to Slater’s defence, suggesting an incident like that should never result in a suspension, let alone keeping a player out of a grand final.

“What do you want him to do?” Lewis said post-game.

“He’s one of the best defensive fullbacks in the game. He had to stop the try.

“He put his body on the line. If someone was to miss a game for something so simple as that, I don’t know what our game is coming to. It’s a contact sport.

“I don’t think there was anything in it to be honest.

“If there’s anyone I’d like to see out there grand final day it’s Billy Slater. Hopefully nothing comes of it.”

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