Storm hire 'shoulder charge whisperer' to help free Billy

Melbourne will push to have Billy Slater's judiciary hearing brought forward to Monday after hiring gun defence counsel Nick Ghabar to help free the retiring star to play in his farewell grand final.

Slater's hopes of playing one last NRL game will rest in the hands of a three-man judiciary panel of ex-players next week, after he was hit with a grade-one shoulder charge offence for Friday night's hit on Cronulla winger Sosaia Feki.

Melbourne were expecting their veteran fullback to go uncharged over the try-saving hit that pushed Feki into touch, but swept into action quickly after receiving the news on Saturday morning.

The Storm confirmed immediately they'd challenge the charge and hired Ghabar, who is considered as one of the best lawyers available when players attempt to evade a ban and has become somewhat of a 'shoulder charge whisperer'.

Ghabar was responsible for freeing Jack Wighton to play in the 2016 finals series after an apparent shoulder charge on Michael Ennis, when the Canberra fullback's prospects looked bleak.

He also successfully defended Sam Burgess against a shoulder charge claim at the start of last season after he cleaned up Canterbury's Greg Eastwood.

Nick Ghabar might be considered the NRL's 'shoulder charge whisperer'. Pic: Getty

"We're going to leave no stones unturned and do everything we can to get Bill up," Melbourne football director Frank Ponissi said.

"We think we've got a strong case, we were disappointed he was charged.

"We've put the request in (for a Monday hearing). Our preference would be interests for the player and the game so everyone can move on and start talking about the grand final."

Whether the hearing can be pushed forward will depend on a number of logistical challenges for the NRL.

However, also working in Melbourne's favour is the fact that since the shoulder charge laws were rewritten at the start of last year, the panel has sided with the player four times out of six when challenging their charges.

Slater was adamant after the game the incident was just an "unfortunate collision", as both he and Feki were running at top-speed for the corner.

Billy Slater was charged over this controversial shoulder charge. Pic: Getty

"He's obviously disappointed, but Bill being being Bill he's on the offensive straight away to do what he can to help with the defence case," Ponissi said.

"Whilst initially shocked and disappointed to be charged, he's putting everything into the defence. That's typical Bill."

Melbourne captain Cameron Smith also missed the Storm's 2008 grand final loss to Manly through suspension, while Kiwi hooker Issac Luke is the last big name to have missed a decider due to a ban when he was playing for South Sydney in 2014.

Losing Slater would be a massive blow to the Storm, given he is still close to his best despite being 317 games into his NRL career.

If he is suspended from what would be a seventh grand final, rookie Jahrome Hughes would likely come in for just his 18th NRL match and first finals clash.