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NRL grand final build-up dominated by legal t -

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LISA MILLAR: With the Rugby League season building up to the decider on Sunday, the focus should be
on the two teams and the big match ahead of them.

But most of the talk is instead about apologies and the threat of legal action against the coach of
the defending premiers, the Melbourne Storm.

For the Storm's opponents, Manly, there's a different sort of pressure.

The Sea Eagles are trying to go one better than last year and have the hopes of the whole of Sydney
resting on their backs.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: The AFL might have its grand final parade.

ANNOUNCER: So would you please now welcome the boys from the Northern Beaches, the Manly Sea


SIMON SANTOW: But in Rugby League, there's a breakfast at a Sydney hotel with both teams supping at
a long table on the stage.

ANNOUNCER: Would you welcome the defending premiers, playing in their third straight grand final,
the Melbourne Storm.


ANNOUNCER: Their coach is Craig Bellamy...

SIMON SANTOW: Before sitting back to some made-for-TV entertainment.

(Music excerpt from Vanessa Amorosi)

SIMON SANTOW: The NRL turned to Vanessa Amorosi and her hit 'Perfect' to help inspire the players.

(Music excerpt from Vanessa Amorosi)

SIMON SANTOW: But for the game's officials, the pre-game publicity has been far from perfect.

Two weeks ago, Melbourne had its best player and captain, Cameron Smith, suspended from the big
game because the judiciary ruled he'd used a dangerous 'grapple-style' tackle on an opponent.

When the Storm overcame the loss of Smith to charge into the grand final, their coach Craig Bellamy
launched a savage verbal attack on league's administrators and even alleged the result of the
judiciary hearing had been leaked to bookmakers ahead of the decision.

The NRL fined the club $50,000 for bringing the game into disrepute. But judiciary members want an

(Music excerpt from Vanessa Amorosi)

SIMON SANTOW: And they're still waiting.

Craig Bellamy this morning wouldn't even admit to being distracted.

CRAIG BELLAMY: Oh, there is always something every week that sort of comes up and makes it a bit of
a challenge but like I say, it is a pretty challenging job as a coach but it is very challenging as
players as well so as long as we all get in there and do our job, you know, that is all we ask.

SIMON SANTOW: Judiciary panel member and former Manly and New Zealand representative player,
Darrell Williams, won't let the Storm's comments pass.

DARRELL WILLIAMS: Look I've been a judiciary panel member for a little over 12 years now and the
longest serving member on that panel. I expect some criticism to come from clubs when they are not
happy with decision but the criticism levelled by Craig Bellamy and backed up Brian Waldron I
believe has crossed the line.

I believe it is a personal attack on my integrity in being part of the panel and parting the
judicial system and it is something that I am not prepared to tolerate.

SIMON SANTOW: And how easily could this problem be resolved?

DARRELL WILLIAMS: In the first instance I believe a genuine apology could have sufficed but
unfortunately it just appears that the club have dug their heels in. They may or may not be hiding
behind the fact that they are preparing for a grand final but this wouldn't have been an issue in
the first instance if they hadn't gone down this road.

SIMON SANTOW: You are absolutely serious about the threat to take legal action?

DARRELL WILLIAMS: Absolutely. I am on my way to a meeting now with David Gallop. I will listen to
him and any direction that comes from him and consider my options but I will be going into that
meeting with the full view that with or without the NRL's support, I'll pursue this through the

SIMON SANTOW: Because it is something that you feel so strongly about?

DARRELL WILLIAMS: I do. I mean I am an ex-player putting a little bit back into the game through my
role as a judicial panel member for the NRL.

I have done it for a while now. I believe in the system. I think it is a system that protects
players and helps to promote the code as a safe code to play and in dispensing, you know, my
services and my duties, I don't expect to be attacked in the manner that I was and to be aligned
with bookmakers and to suggest that I leaked information to bookmakers is intolerable.

LISA MILLAR: Rugby League judiciary panel member and former Sea Eagle, Darrell Williams, speaking
there to our reporter Simon Santow.