Retired Melbourne Storm rugby league great Billy Slater is switching codes and joining St Kilda AFL club to work in a leadership development role.
The Storm superstar, who retired after their NRL grand final loss earlier this month, will link with the Saints in a newly-created position.
Former Collingwood AFL skipper Nick Maxwell performs a similar role at the Storm.
Regarded as one of the NRL’s greatest players and one of the key leaders of Storm’s revered culture, Slater will work closely with all AFL players, coaches and high-performance staff at the Saints.
The part-time position will see the 35-year-old play a mentoring role with the club’s leaders, while also sharing his experiences in relation to professionalism, training standards and match-day performance across the whole playing group.
St Kilda general manager of football Simon Lethlean said Slater’s appointment was a major coup for the club.
“Billy’s sporting resume is second to none, and he will add great value to our club,” Lethlean said.
“He’s been an impressive leader in his own right, but he’s also been a key member of a culture that is highly respected across all sports.
“Over the course of the season, we identified that there was an opportunity to strengthen our leadership and development programs, and we think Billy can play an important role in that.
“He will work closely with our current leaders as well as our emerging leaders to help them develop their leadership capacity and optimise their professionalism and performance.”
Slater is expected to the begin the part-time role early in the pre-season.
Experts and fans reacted to the news in some hilarious ways, with many calling for the Saints to get Slater on the field.
— St Kilda FC (@stkildafc) October 10, 2018
— Jim Wilson (@JimWilsonTV) October 10, 2018
— Francis Leach (@SaintFrankly) October 10, 2018
— Stanley Johnson (@BrandDNA) October 10, 2018
— Bunny Brethren (@BunnyBrethren) October 10, 2018
— #InNICKweTrust🏉🐓👏 (@choox75) October 10, 2018
Billy slater get him in as a playing assistant 😉
— lachlan murphy (@lachiejm1991) October 10, 2018
OMG! The internet is going to explode … what an announcement!
— Ree (@St_Ree) October 10, 2018
"Legendary fullback Billy Slater will also have a role with the Club, as a part-time specialist coach."
Can't take up 2018 cap space if Melbourne pay him to be a coach in 2019. -M pic.twitter.com/Fl4ivXOmsP
— The Cumberland Throw (@EelsTCT) October 10, 2018