Billy set to announce retirement

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Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:09 pm

Retirement confirmed... :cry:
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:12 pm

Slater announces 2018 season will be his last
Wed 8 Aug 2018

Melbourne Storm champion Billy Slater has announced he will retire from rugby league at the end of the 2018 NRL season.

Slater, who has played 313 games, told his Storm teammates of his decision on Wednesday morning, ending one of the most decorated careers in the rugby league history.

Slater has played in six grand finals for Melbourne, winning four of them. His ability to consistently perform on the biggest stage is amplified by the fact Slater holds the current record holder for most tries in NRL Finals history (21).

The 35-year-old has a list of achievements that speak for themselves - he is a three-time Dally M Fullback of the Year, two-time Clive Churchill Medallist, two-time Wally Lewis Medallist, two-time Storm Player of the Year, 2011 Dally M Player of the Year and 2008 Golden Boot winner.

Slater will also retire as one of the most decorated representative players of all time.

He made 31 appearances for Queensland - equal ninth all-time alongside Immortal Wally Lewis - and been part of eight State of Origin series victories in the Maroons jersey. His final Origin game for Queensland this year saw him captain Queensland to victory at Suncorp Stadium.

He has also tasted the ultimate success on the world stage with won two World Cups triumphs during his 30 Test appearances in the green and gold for Australia.

Sixteen years after scoring that breakaway try on debut at Shark Park back in 2003 - Slater became the 30th player to join the NRL's illustrious 300-Club in Round 2, 2018.

His 313 games in the purple jersey are matched only by Cameron Smith (377) and Cooper Cronk (323), teammates with whom he shared such an incredible run of success with over the last 15 seasons.

Arguably Slater's greatest accomplishment though came away from the spotlight. After two consecutive shoulder reconstructions cruelled his 2015 and 2016 seasons, there were doubts whether the NRL world had seen the best of Billy Slater.

Yet last year the champion climbed back to the top of the mountain and reclaimed his place as the best fullback in the world - a moment crowned by receiving the Clive Churchill Medal following his best afield performance against North Queensland in last year's Grand Final victory.

"I have given everything I possibly can to this game but have received so much more in return. When I first came down to Melbourne at the end of 2002 I could never have imagined I would be where I am today.

"I would like to thank all my teammates, coaches, support staff and all the fans for the incredible support they have given me throughout my career.

"I would especially like to acknowledge my family. My parents Ron and Judy, my sister Sheena, wife Nicole and the kids - you guys have ridden the wave with me every step of the way, supporting me when I needed you most and I have loved celebrating the incredible highs together as a family.

"Now that I have made my decision, my focus is to continually give everything possible to the Melbourne Storm."

Melbourne Storm CEO Dave Donaghy paid special tribute on behalf of the Club to one its greatest ever players:

"There are no words that could do justice for what Billy Slater has done for Melbourne Storm, the NRL and the wider rugby league community over the last 16 years.

"His on-field highlights will continue to be shown for many years to come however it is the manner in which he has carried himself off the field that will remain one of his biggest contributions.

"Billy has represented our game with nothing but class and distinction throughout his playing career. Our Club is proud to have a player of the calibre and character of Billy Slater represent the purple jersey for his entire career.

"We wish Billy, Nicole and the kids all the best for the next chapter of their lives and look forward to forever having them as part of the Storm family."

Billy Slater's career
313 NRL/Storm games
187 career tries
Queensland: State of Origins 31 (2004-present)
Australia: Tests 30 (2008-present); World Cups 2008, 2013, 2017; Four Nations 2009-2011
Grand Finals:
7 - Melbourne 2006 (L), 2007 (W), 2008 (L), 2009 (W), 2012 (W), 2016 (L), 2017 (W)
World Club Challenges: 4 - Melbourne 2008 (L), 2010 (W), 2013 (W), 2018 (W)

Key achievements:
Third most games played in Storm history
30th player to join the NRL's 300-Club
Third most points scored in Storm history - 748
3x Dally M Fullback of the Year (2008, 2011, 2017)
2x Clive Churchill Medallist (2009, 2017)
2x Storm Player of the Year (2008, 2009)
2x RLIF Fullback of the Year (2008, 2011)
2x RLIF Player of the Year
2x Wally Lewis Medallist (2010, 2018)
Dally M Player of the Year (2011)
Dally M Representative Player of the Year (2010)
Golden Boot (2008)
Storm record for most tries scored - 187 (Second most in NRL history)
Most tries in NRL finals history - 21
Third most points scored in Storm history - 748
Equal-most tries in a game by a Storm player - 4 v Manly at Docklands, 2009 Qualifying Final
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:13 pm

Billy very emotional at the press conference - as we would expect.

Complete class act.
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:04 pm

Congrats to Billy on an absolutely amazing career. It’s been an honour to watch him play
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:09 pm

The player who single handedly redefined the full back position.
What a pleasure to have seen him give his absolute all for this great club of ours.
He goes out an absolute champion with hardly any RL achievement not already beside his name.
I hope he has a well earned year off and then immerses himself back at the club in some capacity.
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:40 pm

I posted this on fb last night - sums up my thoughts on the great man

The inevitable end of an era is really upon us. Cronk last year... Billy this year. Hopefully not Cam until at least next (leaving from 3 to 1 in order of greatness).
Everyone will remember Billy for the tries scored and electric ball running of course, but for me, I'll remember how much better we are in defence with Billy at the back. The tries saved. His positional play and talk/organisation sets him apart.
The ability to not just get back on the field, but get back to being the premier fullback after 2 years of shoulder recos... amazing effort.
My favourite play?? The 2012 Grand Final. The Bulldogs were coming and Billy somehow found a way to beat Morris to the ball and punch it dead. As much heart as ability... that's why he's a champion.
Thanks for the memories indeed
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:05 pm

Should have happened last year but he wanted 300 games. Nothing left to prove. Farewell, champ.
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Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:17 pm

Farewell Bill, thanks for all the great memories, have a great retirement.
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Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:53 pm

I think it's fair to say that he is the all time fan favourite.

The highlights go on forever, the flawed genius, the gambler, the magic footsteps.

Owns records for most tries in ginals, most tries for a single club, most points without a goal or field goal. Most run metres for us, most kick return metres, most tackle busts, most line breaks. Second all time for tries, right up there for try assists and libd break assists. Golden boot winner, two tine Storm player of the year, Fally M winner, multiple Dally M fullback of the year awards, RLIF player of the year, world cup player of the tournament, Wally Lewis and Clive Churchill medallist.

One could spend all day on him and still miss achievements. But, I think the best thing to do is remember those favourite moments like yhe try he saved with his head and those grand final tries.

Thanks for the memories Billy, number one on your jersey because you're number one in our hearts.
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:18 pm

Scouting Stories: Billy Slater
Fri 10 Aug 2018

If it was not for a phone call to the local barman, Billy Slater would never have become a Melbourne Storm player.

Sporting clubs are often shaped by 'sliding doors' moments that come about through a mixture of judgement, cleverness but above all, pure luck.

That was certainly the case with how a former apprentice jockey landed in Melbourne and went on to become the greatest fullback of all time.

It was on a typical day at Brisbane Norths rugby league club when the phone rang behind the bar.

The Club barman wandered over, picked up the phone and the conversation went as follows.

Ron Slater: "Hi, my son and his cousin were hoping to come down and have a trial at Norths"

Barman: "Oh geez, I don't know much about football mate but I'll ask the question"

So the proposal was made and the decision was simple - 'If a kid is willing to jump in his car and drive 20 hours south from Innisfail to play footy, we'll give him a crack.'

Ronnie's son, Billy, turned up a week later and so began the opening chapter to one of rugby league's greatest stories.

Norths were a feeder club of Melbourne Storm at the time, playing in the Queensland Cup. It would also prove to be the breeding ground for the likes of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and many more.

Billy Slater was given the chance to trial and went okay in his first hit-out though nothing outstanding. However the following week he showed a bit more promise.

"Mark Murray said to him 'look, we'll give you a basic contract and if you get yourself a job and some accommodation, you've got a contract here'," Storm founder and inaugural CEO John Ribot said.

"To Billy's credit, for someone as young as he was, within a few weeks he got himself a job, some accommodation and was set up.

"For the first few months he ate rice as his staple diet to keep himself going, you could just see the determination."

It did not take long for word to spread about this talented kid from Innisfail and suddenly Melbourne had some serious competition on their hands.

The crucial moment came when Slater was running around one day for the Brisbane Norths Colts side. He was still on a basic contract so he was up for grabs for Clubs looking to sign him to first grade.

Ribot flew up that day to watch the game and just so happened to find himself watching on with Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

"We were having conversation and he was quite chatty but whenever Billy got the ball he was more concentrating on what Billy's actions were rather than talking to me," Ribot recalls.

"I remember saying to Mark Murray after the game - 'make sure we sign this kid up because I'm pretty sure the Broncos are after him.'

"It ended up taking us a week or two to sign him but certainly the Broncos did make contact with him. He was one we were able to keep so we were very fortunate there."

Fast forward through 313 unforgettable Storm games, Slater has now announced this 2018 season will be his last.

The future immortal has a highlights reel that will continue to be viewed by generations to come but arguably his biggest legacy is the undeniable role he has played in putting rugby league on the map in Victoria.

"He is an inspiration to all sporting people in Australia," Ribot said.

"Like Cameron (Smith), parts of his game have changed the game, with his defence and the way he attacks the football.

"He is the sort of player that just brings people through the gate, he is an excitement machine and certainly the best fullback I've ever seen."
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Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:19 pm

Pretty good scouting story that one. Obviously timely as well ;D
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:17 pm

Players Voice
Cameron Smith


Our squad was pretty much finalised.

It was 2001 and Norths Devils were already a fair way through the pre-season. We’d played one or two trial games, the season was just around the corner and we had a decent idea how we’d be lining up for round one.

Then a beat-up old Mitsubishi Magna pulled up to training. A kid none of us knew wandered over.

‘This is Billy and he’s going to have a run with us.’

That was the first time I met Billy Slater.

He’d driven that Magna through the night from Innisfail, a trip of about 1,600km, to train with us. But none of us were aware of his story. There’d been no heads-up about his arrival. We figured he was just another local kid looking for a game.

He played in our last trial game at Bishop Park and scored a bag of tries. The opposition couldn’t get a hand on him – his speed and agility were incredible. Whenever he had the ball in his hands you’d be thinking, ‘Wow, he’s going to be handy.’

The Devils picked him and the Storm signed him a few months later.

That’s how it all began.

As for the old Magna, he still cops grief for it. He held onto it for quite a while after that first pre-season. It’s amazing it got him all the way from far north Queensland to Brissie in one piece.

My friendship with Billy really started in Melbourne. It was a time of huge adjustment in our lives.

Here was a kid from Innisfail who didn’t wear shoes to school suddenly living in a Richmond townhouse with a kid from Logan, a small-ish place about 40 kilometres out of Brisbane. Melbourne was so much bigger than anything we’d ever known. People everywhere. Traffic jams. It was daunting, but it was also an adventure.

Bill was probably more prepared than me in terms of being away from family because he’d spent six months in Sydney as a 16-year-old working in Gai Waterhouse’s stables. In saying that, I had made my NRL debut the year before Bill moved to Melbourne, so I was a little bit more familiar with the first-grade system and the expectations within it.

We all leaned on each other in those early days.

We’d dreamed of playing first-grade since we were kids, but none of us had put much thought into the other elements of living in Melbourne: being so far away from family and friends, hardly anyone knowing rugby league, the weather.

It was hard. We’d all sacrificed a lot. After our first season, it didn’t feel like we were chasing dreams anymore, but instead knuckling down and working out how to become the best footballers we could be.

Did I mention the weather? That took a bit of getting used to for the Queensland boys! There’d be days where you’d be standing in the middle of Gosch’s Paddock, rugged up but still freezing, thinking, ‘What the hell have we gotten ourselves into?’

Here was a kid from Innisfail who didn’t wear shoes to school suddenly living in a Richmond townhouse with a kid from Logan.

The older players had fun with us.

The Storm back then didn’t have the facilities we do today. When we first arrived, the ice baths were a couple of wheelie bins. Then the club received a little bit of funding and upgraded to two iron bathtubs, set in some timber framing, that they stuck outside in the weather.

The senior players would get priority so they could finish and go home early. A couple of them, like Matt Geyer, used to stir the rest of us up. He’d be finished – hot shower, all dressed and ready to go– and then he’d wander over to see us all shivering away doing our recovery. Some days it’d be 10 degrees outside and blowing a gale.

He’d pick up a hose and spray us with near-freezing water. He knew we were stuck and couldn’t do anything about it. You can imagine how that went down with the Queensland lads!

Billy and I have a similar ‘roll with the punches’ attitude towards life and that helped us in those early days. There were a couple of other players who came through first grade together with us – Coops, Jake Webster, Dallas Johnson, although he was a year older than us – and we all relied on each other in different ways.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the period when my life began to run parallel with Billy’s. It started with footy – first at the Storm, then Queensland and Australia – but it would also apply to our lives as husbands and fathers.

We did all those things around the same time. I think now about how lucky I’ve been.

I mean, how many people in life get to share all of their biggest moments in their professional and personal lives with one of their best mates?

From the early Norths and Storm days, there were two things that were obvious about Bill.

He didn’t mind taking risks. And he was bloody determined.

I think back to that famous Origin try in 2004 – when he regathered Darren Lockyer’s grubber then chipped over Anthony Minichiello to score – and I reckon it’s the perfect summary of Billy Slater in his early days. He didn’t think about consequences on the footy field. He played on instinct. It’s a good idea and I’m doing it.

If it didn’t come off, he didn’t dwell on it. It was like, ‘Oh well, that didn’t work,’ and if he got the opportunity to do it again two minutes later, he would. He was the ultimate high risk, high reward player. There’d be games where he’d have a crack and nothing would come off for him. Then a week later, he’d take the exact same approach, score four tries and win us the game.

I’m wired differently. I think low risk is high reward!

There were parts of me that looked at Billy with admiration. He could do things I couldn’t. The speed, the agility, the ability to take on defenders down a three-metre blind-side – I just didn’t have that in my game. There have been many times where I have seen Bill do things and thought, ‘There’s no one else in the world who could’ve scored that try from that play.’

But, I’ll be honest, there were other times in the early days where I’d think, ‘Mate, you don’t need to do that.’ Craig Bellamy and I are similar in terms of our approach to footy. We’re the kinds of people who would naturally lean more towards plays where you know the likely outcome. He had to open Billy up to that. It was about picking his times.

From the early Norths and Storm days, there were two things that were obvious about Bill. He didn’t mind taking risks. And he was bloody determined.

He’s done that brilliantly. Over the last decade, Billy became the best attacking weapon in the game by retaining all his aggressive instincts while understanding the right time to employ them. And because we knew each other so well, we could kind of anticipate what the other was thinking. This applied to Coops, too. We all knew each other so well and that helped on the field.

Then there is Billy’s determination. There’s been a lot said – and rightly so – about his successful return from a two-year battle with shoulder injuries but, really, Bill has been overcoming setbacks his whole career.

I think back to that first season in Melbourne. He had a groin injury that would’ve stopped many other players. He’d play on the weekend, have three days off his feet, train for two days, play on the weekend and repeat.

Along the way there have been knee problems, a broken collarbone and plenty of other obstacles placed in his path. Bill has beaten them all. When he puts his mind to something, nothing can stop him. He’s meticulous in his preparation and the way he looks after his body.

The first shoulder surgery was difficult for Bill, his wife Nicole and the kids Tyla and Jake. The frustration of missing most of the 2015 season and the pain of the rehabilitation all took their toll.

The second one was worse. Billy returned for round one of the 2016 season against the Dragons, but found out soon after that the initial surgery hadn’t done the job. His season, and quite possibly his career, was over.

I remember Nicole contacting my wife, Barb, to tell us the news. You could sense the heartache in her voice. Barb and I were out somewhere but dropped what we were doing and headed straight over to where the Slaters were. We wanted to show our support.

I remember seeing the devastation on Billy’s face and not knowing the right words to say.

He had a decision to make. He could’ve called it a day or pushed ahead with more surgery and the risk of permanent damage. I just wanted him to do whatever was right for his future. The footy didn’t matter. If he’d played his last game, and that was the right thing for his family, it would’ve been fine. Difficult, but fine.

Once he’d decided to get it done, I was confident he’d be back. I know what Bill’s about. The rehab was hard and there were plenty of tough days, but if you know Billy Slater like I do, you’re backing him in from there.

His comeback in round three last year against the Broncos was very emotional – not only for Bill, but for our club, our fans and all of his teammates. I can’t overstate how much he means to this place.

I said something to him in the sheds before the game along the lines of, ‘It’s so bloody good to have you back.’ And when he ran on from the bench, I remember thinking, ‘Thank God you’re out here again!’ As good a job as Cameron Munster had done in Billy’s absence, I’d really missed my partner in crime for those two seasons.

It didn’t take Bill long to find his feet again. That’s incredible in itself. The game would have passed a lot of players by if they’d spent two years out at the age of 33, almost 34. Billy? He went on to win a premiership, an Origin and a World Cup!

It may well be that those two seasons off allowed his body and legs to freshen up. He has looked as sharp and fit this season as at any point in his career.

It’s difficult to sum up my relationship with Billy in a few paragraphs. There are so many memories from the premierships, the Origins, the Test matches and our families’ times together.

Hopefully, we can create a few more in the next few weeks.

Bill told me before the Rabbitohs game that he was finishing up. I’d tried not to think about it too much this year. Did I have a feeling he was going to retire? Maybe. But he’s been playing brilliantly this season, so every time I’ve thought he might call it a day I’d think to myself, ‘He could easily go round again the way he’s going’.

When he told me about his decision, I wasn’t shocked. Maybe a little surprised. But then I stopped and thought about all the great things we’ve shared together. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. We’ve been very lucky. We’ve pretty much been side-by-side through life since March, 2001.

On a personal note, I would like to send Billy out a winner.

We’ll all be doing our best to make that happen. It will be extremely tough. There are plenty of teams out there who want exactly what we want. Not many people in rugby league get the fairytale finish.

But if anyone deserves it, it’s Bill. We’re going to have to find something special to make these final few weeks as memorable as possible.

Cameron Smith - Founding Contributor

Read more at ... 2jCbEDl.99
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Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:21 pm

Another great piece :-D
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Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:23 am

Players’ Voice is brilliant.

For me, Billy is one of my all-time favourite sportspeople. Been an absolute privilege to follow his career. Be great if we can send him out with back-to-back premierships.
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Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:25 am ... 42e5109240

Billy Slater’s walk down memory lane
August 19th 2018

STORM superstar Billy Slater has revealed the tiny strokes of luck that helped rugby league’s greatest No. 1 fall into Melbourne’s pocket.

BILLY Slater’s snub is still the biggest recruitment bungle the Cowboys have ever made.

Forget Kalyn Ponga’s mega-rich move to the Knights, the Cowboys biggest regret is not signing a scrawny 17-year-old from Innisfail who grew up dreaming of playing for North Queensland.

They could have had him for peanuts.

Instead, having failed to be selected for North Queensland junior representative teams and development squads, the Cowboys’ greatest mistake is the Storm’s greatest gamble.

The retiring 35-year-old basically fell into their lap — and the rest is history.

The Maroons captain has given a fascinating insight into the famous Melbourne Storm recruitment and retention machine that has made the club the game’s most successful club of the past 20 years.

In the year 200, Slater gave up his job as a trackwork jockey for Gai Waterhouse and instead gave rugby league one final shot and drove down to Brisbane.

He only got a shot at Brisbane Norths U19 team because his uncle had a connection at the club through the local pub.

I was in Innisfail and my old man and I decided that we wanted to give rugby league a crack,” Slater said.

“Brisbane was probably the place to do it. I was lucky enough to get a start at a club that was affiliated with Melbourne and that was Brisbane Norths. I turned up there and they gave me a trial and halfway through that year because they were affiliated with Melbourne, they offered me a one-year contract. And it sort of just went from there.”

That same year he played alongside Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith.

15 years later he is the game’s greatest ever fullback.

Just as he fell into their lap for peanuts, Slater has revealed how Melbourne was able to hold onto him with barely a fuss or contract negotiation for the next 15 seasons when he could have easily pushed to make himself the highest paid player in the game — if he’d wanted to.

“I’ve never seen another approach from another club,” he said.

“I’ve never entertained the thought of going somewhere else. I can’t say the same for my manager. I dare say he probably would have had contact, but I’ve always felt a sense of loyalty to the Melbourne Storm. They were the first and only club to believe that I could do what I’ve done in my career and I’ve always been grateful for that.

“Whenever you go through a contract negotiation you have to weigh it up. Are you happy with the financial part of it. Are you willing to sacrifice a little bit of that finance to be happy and to know that you’re at a good competitive club.

“To know that you’re staying with your mates and where your family are set up. There’s a lot that goes into it. A contract negotiation is never one dimensional. I’ve never felt the need to go and look anywhere else and I never felt the want to look anywhere else. I’ve always looked back to the opportunity that Melbourne gave me when I was 17. I’ve always felt like I wanted to stay here and play out my career down here in Melbourne.”

He plans on sticking around too. Slater will remain with the Storm next year in a coaching role yet to be defined.

Slater will also be juggling his many off-field projects, including a continuing role as a Van Heusen menswear mentor in a campaign announced this week.

Slater will feature as a model and ambassador alongside actor Richard Roxburgh, comedian Nazeem Hussain and Invictus Games ambassador Curtis McGrath.
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