Storm to fight Blair chicken-wing charge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm to fight Blair chicken-wing charge

07/09/2009 04:57:41 PM Comments (0)

Desperate Melbourne will fight another grapple tackle charge threatening a finals campaign after the NRL match review committee hit forward Adam Blair for a "crusher" on Warriors captain Micheal Luck.

Blair was charged with grade one "dangerous contact - unnecessary head/neck pressure" and will miss Friday night's opening qualifying final against Manly at Etihad Stadium if his trip to the judiciary is unsuccessful.

Blair's tackle in the 67th minute of the Storm's 30-0 thrashing of the Warriors in Auckland had been widely referred to in the media as a "chicken-wing", but the NRL confirmed on Monday that was not the case.

The Storm, already battling a chronic shortage of forwards through injury, took little time to decide on the judiciary hearing.

"Melbourne Storm prop Adam Blair has pleaded not guilty to the dangerous contact offence he was handed today and will contest the charge at the judiciary on Wednesday night," a statement from the Storm said.

"No Melbourne Storm official or player will be making any further comment on this matter until after Wednesday night's hearing."

Blair's charge could reignite debate about Melbourne's wrestling tactics, which have previously cost the side dearly in finals football.

Last year, influential captain Cameron Smith was rubbed out of the grand final against Manly - lost 40-0 - for a grapple tackle the week before in a preliminary final against Brisbane.

The club has previously been blamed for introducing a variety of grapple tackles, including the so-called "crusher", "twister" and "chicken-wing", to the game through wrestling coach John Donehue, prompting calls last year for a ban on such coaches.

Three Storm props are already on the sidelines - Matt Cross (ankle) for the season, while Jeff Lima (thumb) and Scott Anderson (hamstring) remain only slim chances of being fit for week one of the play-offs.

Second-rower Sika Manu is also sidelined for the season with a leg injury.

Coach Craig Bellamy has already indicated he may need to call on reinforcements from outside his first grade squad to deal with the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs received a reprieve when the match review committee decided against charging centre Josh Morris following a lifting tackle on Wests Tigers prop Keith Galloway in Friday night's 34-12 loss at the Sydney Football Stadium.

South Sydney's Ben Lowe was charged with a grade one careless high tackle but will not miss any matches when the 2010 season gets underway.

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