In come the lawyers as clubs consider their next move
Melbourne officials have engaged the services of barrister Geoff Bellew as they and the Sea Eagles consider challenging the $50,000 fines and a raft of judiciary charges handed down over Friday's brawl at Brookvale Oval.
Both clubs were slugged with a $50,000 fine from the NRL for the overall conduct of their teams and the damage caused to the image and welfare of the game.
Each had five players charged.
While it is expected that most of the players will plead guilty to the charges to ensure they do not miss any finals matches, Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair have been referred directly to the judiciary and face season-ending bans.
Stewart's Manly teammate Darcey Lussick will miss three matches if he pleads guilty to a grade-four contrary conduct charge, meaning he would be unavailable until the grand final if Manly won its opening finals match.
Should he unsuccessfully challenge the charge, Lussick would miss the grand final unless the second-placed Sea Eagles lost in week one of the finals and won their next two matches.
Brett Stewart and Foran are expected to plead guilty to ensure they are available for the opening finals clash, which is likely to be against the loser of Saturday night's Warriors-Cowboys match in Auckland.
Melbourne is likely to be without Blair, fellow Kiwis forward Sika Manu and Fiji winger Sisa Waqa this week but the latter will be available for their opening finals match at AAMI Stadium on Sunday week.
Sea Eagles chairman and major shareholder Scott Penn said the club would take legal advice before deciding how to proceed. Storm officials said the club was considering its options and Bellew had been hired to represent players.