#ORIGIN | Rick's weekly column looks at whether the dead rubber's worth the hassle - and if it is, w...
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Bulldogs kingpin Sonny Bill Williams is to contest the grading of his striking charge, risking an extra week's suspension in the hope of missing only one finals match.
Williams today entered an early guilty plea to striking North Queensland star Johnathan Thurston, but will argue before the judiciary tomorrow night that the grade two charge should be reduced to grade one.
The Kiwi international forward would have received a two match ban if he accepted the grade two striking suspension which stemmed from a high tackle on Thurston in Friday night's loss in Townsville. If he's successful in getting a downgrade, he'll miss only one game - Saturday's qualifying final which is again against North Queensland.
If unsuccessful he'll be ruled out for three matches, meaning the Bulldogs would have to make the grand final for Williams to play again this season.
Still at the judiciary, and South Sydney coach Jason Taylor says the club will fight David Fa'alogo's striking charge tomorrow night in a bid to clear him for Saturday's qualifying final with Manly at Brookvale Oval.
Taylor says the club feel they have grounds to appeal the backrower's five game suspension for punching Braith Anasta last Saturday night. The Rabbitohs are risking a seven game ban by fighting the charge but Taylor is confident the Kiwi Test forward can be cleared to tackle the Sea Eagles.
Kite initially feared his season was over when he limped from the field against St George Illawarra last Sunday. But scans revealing he had fully torn his adductor muscle have given him hope he will play again this year.
Had Kite partially torn the muscle he would have required season-ending surgery. He is only expected to miss one to three weeks but is optimistic he can make a miracle recovery in time for Saturday's game.
If Manly beat the Rabbitohs on Saturday they will automatically progress to the grand final qualifier which is when Kite is more likely to return.
And veteran teammate Ben Galea could soon follow Fitzhenry as the club says it hopes to agree terms with him before the end of the week. They are set to join an exodus from Wests Tigers to England after their team bowed out of finals contention with a shock 26-24 loss to Newcastle last weekend.
Wests Tigers centre Paul Whatuira has already signed with Hull for 2008 while veteran fullback Brett Hodgson is believed to be in talks with English heavyweights Wigan. Hull Kingston Rovers has already signed Kiwi international Jake Webster after he was released from the remaining two years of his contract at the Gold Coast Titans last week.