Melbourne Storm's premiership defence has suffered a major blow with skipper Cameron Smith set to be suspended for the remainder of the National Rugby League finals series.
Smith has been hit with a contrary conduct charge by the match review committee for a grapple tackle on Brisbane's Sam Thaiday.
With 93 carryover points from a similar charge hanging over his head from earlier this season, Smith will miss two matches.
The Storm will seek to appeal the charge at the NRL judiciary tonight.
The suspension would deprive Melbourne of its most important leader and playmaker as well as a key defender as the Storm pursue a third consecutive grand final berth.
Jeremy Smith is also set to miss the preliminary final against the Sharks after being charged over the same incident, but would be available for the grand final.
The winner of Friday night's clash will face either Manly or the Warriors in the grand final on Sunday October 5th.