Hughes charge adds to Melbourne’s NRL woes

Melbourne face a potential halves crisis, with Jahrome Hughes at risk of joining Cameron Munster on the NRL sidelines after being charged over late contact.

Hughes is the only player facing a ban out of Saturday’s NRL matches, with six other players able to escape with a fine.

The Storm halfback earned the ire of the match review panel for a late shot on Gold Coast counterpart Tanah Boyd, after he made contact when following a kick in his team’s 38-34 loss.

Hughes will be able to accept a one-match ban for the grade-two charge, or risk missing a second week if he fights it at the judiciary and loses.

Melbourne were hopeful Munster could return at five-eighth for Friday’s clash with Wests Tigers after surgery on his finger, but his comeback is still in significant doubt.

It means the Storm could be without their two first-choice halves for the first time since midway through 2021.

If both are out, it is likely Nick Meaney would move from fullback to join rookie Jonah Pezet in the halves.

Sualauvi Faalogo would then be an option to debut in the backline, and potentially in the No.1.

Another option would be for the Storm to slide Tyran Wishart or Jayden Nikorima into the halves alongside Pezet.

The Storm’s loss to the Titans means they have finished two straight rounds outside of the top 10 on the ladder for the first time since 2014.

Storm centre Justin Olam was also charged for a high shot on Boyd, but can take a $750 fine.

Olam was not penalised for the hit on field, but Boyd was forced to leave the field for a concussion check.

Gold Coast pair David Fifita and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui were charged for dangerous contact and a shoulder charge respectively.

North Queensland second-rower Jeremiah Nanai has the most expensive price to pay for his Saturday night, earning a $3000 fine for dangerous contact on Te Maire Martin after two previous charges last year.

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