Billy Slater could have been sin-binned for this challenge, says the NRL boss.
Billy Slater could have been sin-binned for this challenge, says the NRL boss.

Greenberg: ‘Referees could have sin-binned Slater’

NRL boss Todd Greenberg has admitted referees Gerard Sutton and Ben Cummins could have sin-binned Storm fullback Billy Slater for a shoulder charge in Melbourne's preliminary final against Cronulla.

Speaking on 2UE on Wednesday afternoon, Greenberg said upon review the referees agreed the sin bin was an option for Slater as an act of foul play, but defended Sutton's appointment as lead referee in Sunday's grand final despite the contentious call.

"Certainly on review I understand the referees in their report cards talked to the point that it could have been the case on the field as a professional foul, but that didn't happen on the night," Greenberg said.

"He's our best referee. Like players, referees will make mistakes from time to time but there's no doubt Gerry Sutton is the number one referee in the game."

In a wide-ranging interview, Greenberg also clarified criticism over the severity of Slater's citing compared to Roosters hooker Jake Friend, who was pinged for a dangerous lifting tackle against Greg Inglis.

While the base penalty for a shoulder charge is 200 points, or a two-week suspension, Friend's dangerous throw had a base penalty of 75 points, meaning he avoided suspension with an early guilty plea.

"There's a reason why we have big point penalties for grade one shoulder charges because we've slowly eradicated shoulder charges out of the game," Greenberg said, saying the NRL would also do their annual post-season review of rules and interpretations.

"We believe the law as it stands is pretty clear as to what constitutes a shoulder charge, but as we do at the end of any season we'll look to make any changes.

"We do that as a matter of course at the end of every season and we'll do that again."

Greenberg said there are a number of different tackles in the game but the shoulder charge in particular was targeted to be scrapped, hence the higher number of points for a base charge from the match review committee.

"We have a number of different tackles in the game and they come with different point penalties. We're trying to eradicate the shoulder charge from the game and to do that you have to have big deterrence in place."