'If Billy Slater was a Kiwi he'd be suspended for sure.'
Variations of that line have been muttered around the water cooler over the past few days – at least on this side of the Tasman – as the world waits on the Melbourne Storm fullback's appearance in front of the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.
Slater will appeal a grade-one shoulder charge for his collision with Cronulla's Sosaia Feki in last Friday night's preliminary final.
If he is found guilty, a one week suspension will see him miss Sunday's grand final against the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium and send him into retirement.
Many are convinced the former Kangaroos great will escape a ban and be free to play his swansong match due to his revered status in the game.
Kiwi conspiracy theorists are equally sure however that, if Slater held a New Zealand passport, he would be watching the decider from the stands.
That argument held weight in years gone by, when New Zealanders tended to find themselves in hot water with the judiciary in the lead-up to transtasman tests. Untimely suspensions often followed, denying the Kiwis access to some of their best players.
But when it comes to grand finals, the numbers simply don't support the somewhat misguided belief that 'those Aussies will do anything to ensure the Kiwis miss out.'
Just three New Zealand-born players – Dane Sorenson (1978), John Lomax (1994) and Issac Luke (2014) - are among the dozen big names that have been banned from playing in grand finals throughout the game's history.
Storm captain and former Australian skipper Cameron Smith (2008) is also on that list. As is former Roosters forward Luke Ricketson (2004), Balmain great Steve Roach (1988), and the only immortal to feature on that list, the late great Arthur Beetson (1969).
Smith has previously spoken of how missing his side's 40-0 defeat to Manly continues to eat away at him, and Roach admits the pain is still raw 20 years after he missed the Tigers' loss to Canterbury.
Luke, the last player to miss a grand final, this week threw his support behind Slater's bid to escape suspension.
The off-contract Warriors hooker and former Rabbitoh is still hurting after a dangerous throw on Sonny Bill Williams cost him his place in South Sydney's drought-breaking 2014 premiership victory.
"I reckon he should play," Luke said on Twitter. "No matter what the crime is... Because that last week sucks not being apart (sic) of it even though the club done everything for me to be part of it."
Former Canberra enforcer Lomax was named the Raiders' Player of the Year in 1994, but missed the Green Machine's grand final win over the Bulldogs because of a high tackle on Billy Moore in the preliminary final against the North Sydney Bears.
"I didn't think there was a helluva lot in it," Lomax reflected in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in 2014.
"I got whacked probably about 10 minutes earlier, when [Norths prop] Tony Hearn hit me around the head. I was a little bit concussed, we tried to use that when we went to fight the case."
Sorenson feels the cards were stacked against him however, after he was sent off for a high shot on Western Suburbs enforcer Les Boyd in the final round match of the 1978 season.
His controversial suspension meant he missed the Sharks' 11-11 draw with Manly at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and the midweek re-match three days later. The Sea Eagles won the second encouter 16-0.
"It is something you never really forget," said Sorenson. "The suspension was a joke, but it was done and dusted before I walked in. I had to attend the grand final but I left at halftime. It was too hard to sit there and watch when you couldn't do anything."