'We don't need to do anything dramatic' - Shaun Johnson says Kiwis will get better

After a 30-12 loss to Australia Johnson believes there was some positive signs in their second half performance in Canberra. Source: 1 NEWS


Let Billy Slater play declares Sharks stalwart: 'I don't know what our game would be coming to'

Cronulla's Luke Lewis has leapt to the defence of Billy Slater, implying the game's gone soft if the Melbourne superstar is banned for his farewell NRL grand final.

Slater faces a nervous wait to see if he is sanctioned for a shoulder charge on Sosaia Feki, after he was penalised for throwing his body at the Sharks winger to save a try in Storm's 22-6 preliminary final win.

A charge would attract 200 demerit points, enough to rule him out of next Sunday's decider against South Sydney or the Sydney Roosters.

The former Kangaroos and Queensland fullback would need to successfully fight the punishment at the NRL judiciary to have any hope of ending his career in the ANZ stadium showpiece.

But Lewis was adamant his former Australia teammate shouldn't face any time on the sidelines for the offence.

"What do you want him to do?" Lewis said.

"He's one of the best defensive fullbacks in the game and you have to stop a try and put your body on the line.

"If someone was to miss a game for something like that, I don't know what our game would be coming to. It's a contact sport.

"I don't think there was anything in it to be honest. If there's anyone I want see play on grand final day, it's Billy Slater."

Lewis and Slater remain close from their time together in Kangaroos camps, and both came into Friday's game with the potential of it being their last if their team lost given their impending retirements.

Slater said after the match he wasn't concerned that he would be charged over the tackle.

"I wasn't worried at the time," Slater said, without having seen a replay.

"When it was a penalty I thought what was the penalty for, but then I realised I got my body in an awkward position.

"It's pretty hard to make a conventional tackle when you're going across at top speed trying to save a try like that ... It was just a collision."

He was also backed by coach Craig Bellamy, who hadn't seen replays when quizzed after the match.

"I didn't think straight away that I'm worried about that," Bellamy said.

"I didn't think there was too much in it from that."

"But having said that I haven't suffered it closely."

If Slater was to be charged, he would follow in the footsteps of captain Cameron Smith who missed the 2008 grand final due to a suspension.

Former South Sydney hooker Issac Luke is the last big name to be ruled out of a grand final at the judiciary after being charged with a dangerous throw in 2014.

The retiring Storm star could face suspension for this hit on Sosaia Feki. Source: SKY


'See what happens' - Storm skipper Cameron Smith could retire after NRL Grand Final

Cameron Smith has hinted he would consider retiring alongside teammate Billy Slater if Melbourne win next week's NRL grand final.

In a puzzling epilogue to Melbourne's 22-6 preliminary final win over Cronulla, the rugby league Immortal-in-waiting admitted retirement wasn't out of the question with a fifth grand final win next Sunday.

Quizzed on whether he was serious about his stance Smith said he still intended on playing on in 2019 but wouldn't rule out changing his mind.

"I don't know, if we were to win it. If we were to go and play well next week, I don't know. You'd consider it," Smith said when asked if there would be a temptation to retire with Slater.

"Maybe. I don't know.

"I don't have a contract for next year yet ... We'll just get through the week first and see what happens."

"Players finish up all the time and new players come in and you start writing about them.

"I've got all intention of going around next year, you guys posed the question to me. If we were to win would you consider it?

"I don't know, we win first and we'll see what happens. At this stage I want to play on.

"Does that clear it up for you? Clear as mud."

The comments come after Smith has long indicated he wanted to play next season after his shock decision to retire from representative football just weeks out from State of Origin earlier this year.

Reports also emerged this week he was close to finalising a deal with the Storm for next year that would likely see him become the first game to reach the 400-game mark.

The old firm of Smith and Slater stood tall on Friday night in their last game together at AAMI Park, combining for the try just before halftime which put the game beyond doubt.

"I was a bit nervous about the outcome (of the preliminary final) for Billy," Smith said.

"This week I've been having small moments to myself on the training paddock where I'm doing extras with Bill.

"I've been thinking I would love another chance to have another week on the paddock with him."

Storm skipper Cameron Smith celebrates his drop goal. Source: Getty



Rampant Broncos eliminate Warriors women from NRLW

Brisbane have wrapped up the inaugural NRLW minor premiership, knocking the Warriors out of grand final contention with a 32-10 victory last night.

Having already all but qualified after defeating both the Sydney Roosters and Dragons in the opening two rounds, the Broncos ran in six tries to two in dominant win at AAMI Park.

The result bumped the Warriors down to last, meaning the Broncos will meet the winner of Saturday's clash between the Dragons and Roosters in next Sunday's grand final.

After they led 16-10 at half-time, the Broncos ran in three unanswered tries in the second half to capitalise on a wealth of possession.

Hooker Brittany Brealey was the star, setting up two tries and scoring one herself with a 40-metre dash out of dummy-half to get the Broncos firing after the break.

Winger Julia Robinson also bagged a double, the first off a wonderful set play from a scrum where Brisbane caught the Warriors short down the blindside.

"It's one we'd been practising, but you've got to take your opportunities," Broncos halfback Ali Brigginshaw said.

"They were talking that we were going to do it, but they didn't defend it."

The Broncos are also hopeful a knee injury suffered by Kiwi Fern second-rower Maitua Feterika's isn't too serious after she was carried off the field.

Broncos coach Paul Dyer then pulled the majority of his spine from the field as a precaution before next week.

"She's (Feterika) going to be okay. It gave her a little bit of a fright but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as they first thought," Dyer said.

"My mindset went straight away to trying to make sure our spine was off the field. If you lose some quality players it makes the job more difficult next week."

The Brisbane side sealed the minor premiership with a 32-10 victory. Source: SKY


Watch: The shoulder charge that's left Billy Slater in doubt for farewell NRL Grand Final

Billy Slater is unconcerned by the threat of a suspension hanging over his head for his fairytale grand final after powering Melbourne to a third straight decider with a 22-6 flogging of Cronulla last night.

The retiring superstar put on a first-half clinic at AAMI Park, scoring two tries and setting up another to power the Storm to an unassailable 20-0 lead that the Sharks never looked like recovering from.

But it will be one of Slater's 14th minute try-saver on Sosaia Feki that will garner all the attention, after the veteran fullback was penalised for a last- ditch shoulder charge on the winger as he looked set to cross.

Slater will learn today whether he is charged, with even a grade-one offence earning him 200 demerit points and a suspension unless he can beat it at the judiciary on Tuesday night.

"I wasn't worried at the time," Slater said, without having seen a replay.

"When it was a penalty I thought what was the penalty for, but then I realised I got my body in an awkward position.

"I thought he was going to step inside me hence why I got my body in an awkward position.

"It's pretty hard to make a conventional tackle when you're going across at top speed trying to save a try like that ... It was just a collision."

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan also backed Slater, and declared it would be unfair to rub the 35-year-old out of a seventh grand final over the hit.

The Storm powered to a 22-6 victory against the Cronulla Sharks. Source: SKY

"What do you want him to do there? For his team he needs to save a try there," Flanagan said.

"I thought he had a hand in there actually. He might've hit him with one shoulder and one hand."

It overshadowed a dominant showing by the Storm, who remain a chance of becoming the first team to go back-to-back in a unified competition since Brisbane in 1992-93.

They'll now play in their eighth grand final since 2006 -next Sunday against the winner of Saturday night's preliminary final between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney.

In front of 26,621 fans, Slater was involved from the lead up of the Storm's opening try after he hit a gap from a Felise Kafusi ball and put Brodie Croft over in the 20th minute.

That opened the floodgates, with Slater slicing through Matt Moylan on the Sharks' left-edge 10 minutes later, before he had his second moments before the break when he dived onto a Cameron Smith grubber out of dummy-half.

The try came as a number of Sharks' forwards were distracted by a scuffle involving Andrew Fifita in back play, opening the gap for Slater to chase through.

It was a play that summed up Cronulla's opening 40 minutes, the Sharks lacking composure without injured co-captains Wade Graham and Paul Gallen.

They had 52 per cent of the ball and had more red-one play-the-balls than Melbourne, but had to wait until the 68th minute for retiring veteran Luke Lewis to score their only try.

The retiring Storm star could face suspension for this hit on Sosaia Feki. Source: SKY