A tearful Billy Slater has paid a beautiful tribute to his coach and wife after confirming that season 2018 will be the last in an astonishing rugby league career.
The Melbourne Storm veteran has decided to call time on a stellar 16-year career that’s seen the champion fullback win multiple premierships, State of Origin series and countless individual accolades.
‘EXTREME LOW POINT: Slater reveals toughest moment of his career
The 35-year-old will play out the remainder of the 2018 season and the NRL finals series.
“I feel so lucky have to career I’ve had,” Slater said at the start of his press conference.
Slater choked back tears thanking the Storm for the incredible loyalty they’d shown him over the last 16 years.
The 35-year-old got particularly emotional when it came to Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy, who he thanked for the incredible mentoring he’d provided Slater from a young age.
“Thanks for believing in me. Your support and guidance and care has been instrumental for me in my career,” Slater said.
“You taught me the harder you work the luckier you get and I have no doubt that my career would not have been as successful or consistent if you didn’t instil that work ethic in me”
Slater credited Storm captain former teammate Cooper Cronk as the two players that have had the biggest influence on his career.
He also paid an emotional tribute to his wife for being there through the highs and lows of his career.
“It’s been the tough times that you’ve been there for me most. The poor performances, the selection disappointments and the one that really hit us hard – injuries.”
“You have given me unconditional love and support and although sitting up here and delivering this message today is extremely scary, knowing that I have you makes it comforting.”
The fullback said one particular family moment stood out as one of the highest points of his career.
“To be in the middle of a grand final and have your son and daughter give you a high five as they deliver the kicking tee, that’s a special moment that I’ll remember forever.”
Slater ended his emotional press conference by thanking the game of rugby league.
“I am forever in debt to our game,” Slater finished to a rousing round of applause.
Slater’s extensive trophy cabinet includes premierships medals with the Storm in 2012 and 2017, two Clive Churchill Medals, two Wally Lewis Medals and the 2011 Dally M.
The Storm veteran – a three-time Dally M Fullback of the Year – has played 31 State of Origin matches for Queensland and 30 Tests for Australia.
He’s been part of eight Origin series wins and two World Cup wins for the Kangaroos, as well as multiple Four Nations and World Club Challenge triumphs.
Slater is the second greatest try scorer in Australian first grade history – his 187 tries bettered only by legendary winger Ken Irvine (212).
Since debuting for the Storm back in 2003, the one-club legend has amassed 313 matches in the NRL, with four games of the season and NRL finals still to come.