STORM fullback Billy Slater has apologised to Newcastle back-rower Cory Paterson for taunts the Knights are certain targeted Paterson’s well-documented mental health issues.
Slater and an enraged Paterson had to be pulled apart by teammates after a tackle in the 46th minute then they engaged in a running war of words.
Paterson took a break from the NRL last season after announcing on April 24 that he was suffering from clinical depression and at the lowest point of his mental breakdown had experienced suicidal thoughts.
Knights chief executive Steve Burraston said the club would not pursue the matter with the Storm or the NRL.
He was unaware of exactly what Slater said, but based on what he had heard from several club sources he believed the Queensland and Australian fullback had crossed the line.
‘‘No, we won’t be taking it any further – we’re happy to leave it on the field – but from my understanding it was a pretty ordinary effort from Slater,’’ Burraston said.
Paterson would not comment immediately after the match but said yesterday when contacted by The Herald: ‘‘He knows what he said, and I’ll just leave it at that.’’
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said yesterday that he was aware of the allegations against Slater but ‘‘I wasn’t out there so I’ve got no comment’’.
Slater then issued a statement.
“I heard early this afternoon that Cory had an issue with something that was said on the field last night,’’ the statement said.
‘‘I rang Cory immediately to discuss it and clear the air. What was said in that conversation will remain private, but Cory has assured me that there is no ill-feeling between us. I wished him all the best at the end of the phone call and he did the same.’’
When asked about Slater’s statement, Paterson said: ‘‘He rang me this afternoon and apologised and I accepted. Now can we leave it at that, please?’’
Knights coach Rick Stone was pleased Paterson and Slater had settled their differences.
‘‘I think there is a line, for certain things, there’s no doubt about it. I think if you cross that line, players know if you have, and whether Billy did that, I’m not quite sure,’’ he said.
‘‘I was happy Pato sorted it out there and I think he got a little bit back as well and stood up for himself, which he needs to do.
‘‘They’re both competing hard, it’s a tough game, and there’s two points on the line. I’m more than happy to leave it where it is. Pato’s confident that he knows what Billy said, and I think he’s shown a bit of class to leave it there.’’
Stone initially dismissed the incident as ‘‘a little bit of banter on the run’’.
‘‘It’s just one of those things as a young player, I suppose, getting exposed to players who have been in a lot of those tough contests, you’ve got to be able to handle yourself and make sure that you show that you’re not being intimidated,’’ he said.
Paterson’s condition restricted him to 11 NRL games last season as he struggled for form and fitness. He spent time playing for Lakes United.
But he lost almost 15kilograms during the off-season, no longer takes anti-depressants, stood out in the Indigenous All Stars’ pre-season win over the NRL All Stars and was one of Newcastle’s best players in their first-round 20-16 victory over the Bulldogs.