Storm legend Billy Slater has opened up on the hardest moment of his stellar 16-year NRL career.
Speaking in Melbourne to announce his retirement from the game, the champion fullback explained how injury overshadowed his career, and how one in particular almost drove him to breaking point.
The 35-year-old revealed how his second shoulder injury, which ruled him out for the duration of the 2016 season, immediately after his 2015 campaign was cut short by the same issue.
“My shoulder injury (in 2017) was an extreme low point,” Slater said.
Slater recounted the harrowing day he underwent surgery in Sydney, before flying back to Melbourne and receiving one of the toughest messages of his life.
“I flew home that night (after surgery), when I landed I had a voicemail on my phone (from the surgeon) of basically the outcome of that surgery in Sydney,” Slater said.
“I remember talking to Tony (Storm physio Tony Ayoub) in the car.
I had to pull over, it was an extremely tough time for myself and my family, to know that I had to get my shoulder operated on again.”
The successive shoulder surgeries threatened to immediately end Slater’s career, however ‘Billy the kid’ showcased his incredible attitude by excelling in rehabilitation and returning better than ever in 2017.
“They’re the tough things that I went through but a lot of NRL players go through those things, careers aren’t full of ups, there are a lot of downs,” Slater said.
“But when you come through those times of adversity and you come through the other side, the achievements, (from 2017) we went on to win a Grand Final, I played in a State of Origin winning series, and at the end of the year I was part of a World Cup with Australia.
“To go through those tough times, they made those good times a lot sweeter.”
Slater retires from the game with 30 Tests for Australia, 31 appearances for Queensland and with the mantle of greatest ever try-scorer for Melbourne.
He’ll be looking to add to his two premiership rings come season’s end.