‘The pain never leaves’ for suspended seven
IF Billy Slater is suspended at the judiciary on Tuesday night he'll join the company of some of the game's greatest names.
Scant consolation to be sure, but Slater could join Immortals and club legends if he's wiped out for a shoulder charge on Cronulla's Sosaia Feki in the preliminary final.
Slater has pleaded not guilty in an attempt to earn a shot at another grand final ring in his final game before retirement.
Here's seven other rugby league legends who had to watch from the sidelines.
Arthur Beetson (Balmain) 1969
The future rugby league Immortal was suspended for throwing a punch against South Sydney in the major semi-final. It mattered not for the Tigers, who beat the Rabbitohs 11-2 in the decider.
Greg Pierce (Cronulla) 1978
Punched Western Suburbs' John Donnelly in the semi-final to miss the grand final against Manly. With New Zealand forward Dane Sorensen also suspended, the Sharks were no match for the Sea Eagles in the club's second grand final, losing 16-0.
Steve Roach (Balmain) 1988
The blockbusting prop was hit with a four-match ban for a high tackle on Canterbury's Chris Mortimer in the fifth-placed playoff.
Roach flew to England in an audacious bid to play in the grand final, hoping to be named for Warrington for the final two games of his suspension. But the NSWRL blocked the move, leaving Roach stranded on the other side of the world as the Tigers lost to the Bulldogs, 24-12. "Oh, mate, I'll never forget listening to the 1988 grand final from England," Roach said. "I mean, you've waited your entire life to play that game. Your game. So to miss out . . . yeah, the pain never leaves."
Luke Ricketson (Sydney Roosters) 2004
The Roosters cleanskin went into the judiciary charged with punching North Queensland's Nathan Fien the weekend before, and "put our hands up in the air and hoped for leniency or pity". It didn't work and Ricketson was forced to watch from the sidelines as Canterbury won 16-13. He later called for a change in the demerit points system for grand finals because of his grade-three charge.
Carl Webb (North Queensland) 2005
Missed the Cowboys' first grand final appearance, a 30-16 loss to the Wests Tigers, after punching Melbourne's Ryan Hoffman in week two of the finals and failing to have his charge downgraded, despite claiming to be "grappled" by the Storm forward. He was also cruelly cut from Brisbane's grand final team ahead of the 2000 decider, and never won a premiership.
Cameron Smith (Melbourne) 2008
Forced to watch on as the Storm were belted 40-0 by Manly, having been suspended for a grapple tackle on Brisbane's Sam Thaiday. It also cost the Storm a $50,000 fine when coach Craig Bellamy and disgraced former chief executive Brian Waldron were found to have questioned the judiciary's integrity.
Issac Luke (South Sydney) 2014
The three-man judiciary panel of Chris McKenna, Mal Cochrane and Michael Vella took just 11 minutes to end Luke's eight-year dream of playing in a grand final as South Sydney went on to end their 43-year premiership drought. The hooker was suspended for a dangerous tackle on Sonny Bill Williams, who himself asked the judiciary not to punish Luke over the tackle.
Others: Steve Bowden (Newtown) - 1981, John Lomax (Canberra) - 1994. Jim Serdaris (Manly) - 1997, Peter Ryan (Brisbane) - 1998.