Billy Slater has been cleared of a shoulder charge for this hit on Cronulla’s Sosaia Feki, freeing him to play in Sunday’s NRL grand final. Picture: Getty
Billy Slater has been cleared of a shoulder charge for this hit on Cronulla’s Sosaia Feki, freeing him to play in Sunday’s NRL grand final. Picture: Getty

Roosters off the leash after Slater verdict

THE controversial decision to clear Billy Slater of a shoulder charge ban will open up "Pandora's box" on the dangerous tackling style, according to former NRL enforcer Willie Mason.

Mason predicted Sunday's grand final would become a "shoulderchargeathon" with players empowered by the NRL judiciary's decision to buck recent trends and exonerate Slater despite the star fullback being slugged with a grade one charge for his last-ditch hit on Cronulla's Sosaia Feki.

Slater crunched into the Sharks winger, saving a try and bundling Feki into touch, in the Storm's preliminary final victory.

He was immediately penalised for a shoulder charge, and debate raged over the weekend as to whether the likely Immortal-in-waiting should be rubbed out of the decider.

Billy Slater sits with coach Craig Bellamy during the three-hour NRL judiciary hearing on Tuesday night. Picture: John Feder/The Australian
Billy Slater sits with coach Craig Bellamy during the three-hour NRL judiciary hearing on Tuesday night. Picture: John Feder/The Australian

But the side story could be even more damaging - with former Australia and NSW star Mason predicting a return of the shoulder charge, which has been outlawed for three years.

Mason, who played for five NRL clubs including Canterbury and the Sydney Roosters, believes players will use the Slater example as a precedent in future.

"I swear there's going to be a 'shoulderchargeathon' coming up on the weekend!" Mason posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

Willie Mason had a decorated representative career, playing 24 Tests for Australia.
Willie Mason had a decorated representative career, playing 24 Tests for Australia.

"They've opened Pandora's box."

The Roosters welcome back from suspension noted hard head Dylan Napa for the big clash. He will join fellow heavy hitters Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Victor Radley in an imposing pack - and Mason is certainly expecting fireworks.

"Roosters boys will be licking their chops ... especially NAPA," he tweeted, before adding his support for the traditional shoulder charge as long as the head wasn't targeted.

"I'm all good with it ... just no shoulders to the head!!! It's a collision game! Big doggs only!!"



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