NRL great ‘Billy the Kid’ calls it a day

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Billy Slater [Source: 9 News]

Billy Slater Press Conference [Photo: news.com.au]
Melbourne Storm full-back Billy Slater has announced his retirement from the NRL at a press conference in Melbourne this afternoon.

The emotional 35-year-old said that the 2018 NRL Premiership season would be his last.
“I feel so very lucky to have had the career I’ve had. 18 years ago, I made a decision to pack my car up and drive 20 hours to chase my dream. Four months later, this club, the Melbourne Storm, gave me that opportunity,” he said.

Slater was full of thanks and gratitude, acknowledging a wide range of people, including his teammates, club officials, sponsors, and fans of the game. “It’s been a pleasure to entertain you all,” he said.

Slater made a special tribute to his family. “Mum, you’d wash the jerseys and cut the oranges. You drove me to training and you’d be cheer squad on game day. Dad, you put the passion for rugby league in me. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved this game and that started with you.”

He paid further tribute to his wife Nicole and to his two children. “To be in a middle of a grand final and have your son and your daughter run past you and give you a high-five while they are delivering the kicking tee, that’s a special moment that I’ll remember forever.”

He also paid tribute to long-time team mates, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, saying that they “had the biggest influence on his career”. Slater, Smith and Cronk shared most of their careers representing their club, state and country.

Cooper Cronk (left), Billy Slater (middle), and Cameron Smith (right) representing Australia [Source: Daily Telegraph]
Billy Slater has had a decorated career, whose achievements speak for themselves.

‘Billy the Kid’ as he was known, made his NRL debut in Round 1 2003 against the Cronulla Sharks. To date, Slater has scored 187 tries in 313 games for the Melbourne Storm and represented Queensland in 31 Origin matches and Australia in 30 Tests.

Over that time, the boy from Nambour has achieved many great individual accolades, winning the Clive Churchill Medal twice (2009 & 2017), the Wally Lewis Medal (2010 & 2018) and was the Melbourne Storm Player of the year in 2009. Slater was also named in the Melbourne Storm Team of the Decade at Full Back in 2007.

He was a part of eight successful State of Origin campaigns for Queensland, won two Rugby League World Cups with Australia, and two NRL premierships with the Melbourne Storm (another two were stripped due to salary cap sanctions).

Billy Slater will leave a huge legacy in rugby league, where he was able to put the code on the map in AFL-dominated territory.

He will be remembered as one of the greatest full backs the game has ever seen.

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