TURBULENT TIGERS | Wests Tigers' 2016 season was... interesting.
From the demotion and eventual dep...
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In a severe blow to the team's finals campaign starting this week, the giant 21-year-old was today ruled out with a partially dislocated patella and posterior cruciate ligament damage in his right knee.
Vatuvei was forced from the field early in the second half of Saturday night's 24-20 victory over Penrith which won them a place in the top four and a home play-off against Parramatta at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night.
Down south, Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith fears a repeat of the dud hand his side received from the referees in last year's Grand Final loss could again cruel the Storm's premiership hopes.
The Storm were left fuming by several contentious calls from whistleblower Paul Simpkins which they believe cost them dearly in the 15-8 loss to the Broncos. Smith admitted several inconsistent performances from some of the game's leading referees had him more than a touch nervous heading into Sunday's opening finals clash against Brisbane at Olympic Park.
Smith said he hoped that a team's finals campaign didn't come down to a refereeing decision.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs and South Sydney will both review charges against key players before deciding on whether to fight them at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
The clubs have until midday today to decide whether to enter early guilty pleas.
Bulldogs superstar Sonny Bill Williams is facing a minimum two-match ban after being charged with grade two striking after collecting North Queensland's Johnathan Thurston in the head with his forearm three minutes into Friday night's match at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Williams will miss two matches with an early guilty plea but risks a three match ban if he is unsuccessful in fighting the charge.
South Sydney's David Fa'alogo was slapped with a grade four striking charge following his king hit on Sydney Roosters pivot Braith Anasta. Fa'alogo will miss five matches with an early guilty plea but could be rubbed out for seven games with an unsuccessful trip to the judiciary.
Farah led the race for the prestigious award before voting went behind closed doors in the run in to the finals while North Queensland duo Matt Bowen and 2005 winner Johnathan Thurston are also in the running for the award.
Melbourne's Israel Folau and Parramatta's Krisnan Inu are running hot for the rookie prize, while South Sydney's Jason Taylor - who has taken the Rabbitohs from last to seventh - and Melbourne's Craig Bellamy look likely to battle out the coaching award.
Turning to the International scene, and stand-in Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen claims Sharks teammate Greg Bird is the standout choice to fill Darren Lockyer's boots in the end-of-season rugby league Test against New Zealand.
Gallen and Bird joined young Sharks teammate Luke Douglas in earning call-ups to the Kangaroos train-on squad yesterday ahead of the October 14 clash in Wellington.
Most interest centres on who will fill the Australian number six jumper for the one-off clash after Lockyer was ruled out until 2008 due to a knee reconstruction. Bird is vying with the likes of Sydney Roosters pivot Braith Anasta and Gold Coast skipper Scott Prince for the role, the latter two also named in the train-on squad.