I’ve never wanted to write an article about one player as much as I want to write about Billy Slater right now. I don’t remember a player like him every playing the game. Slater is the ultimate football player. He is strong, fast and has this ability to morph out of nowhere on the football field. I’m sure that on the day he dies doctors will discover that he was actually a robot created in some lab by Craig Bellamy. Or an alien sent to earth to react to anything Cameron Smith of Cooper Cronk think of on the rugby league field.
The 2012 Dally M winner, QLD giant and Australian representative passed a milestone on Saturday night. He became the highest try scoring fullback to play rugby league (surpassing Rhys Wesser) with 130 tries. He reached that total by scoring 6 tries in 3 games, 2 of those against the Titans on Saturday night which included one of those crazy teleporting ones where the cameraman is totally surprised by him coming into the frame.
If you are a Melbourne Storm fan I’m not telling you anything you dont already know. Craig Bellamy knows how good he is, Mal Meninga (coach of the QLD origin squad) knows how amazing he is and so does Tim Sheens (coach of the Australian squad). But just in case you don’t know check out his resume:
- 8th year in the league
- 2005 top try scorer
- 2008 Dally M fullback of the year
- 2008 Rugby World Cup Player of the Tournament
- 2009 Clive Churchill Medal Winner
- 2010 Wally Lewis Award (Origin)
- 2011 Dally M Fullback of The Year
- 2011 Dally M Winner
- Has played finals football since 2006
- Has played Origin since 2004 (the same year he debuted in the NRL)
- Has played for Australia since 2008
- Has scored 18 tries in 17 games for Australia
None of that includes the amount of times Slater has won the game for Melbourne, QLD or Australian. Plus all of this is just for playing rugby league. He also won the first 2 seasons of ‘Australia’s Greatest Athlete” against the likes of Iron Men, AFL, Cricket and Rugby Union players. Thus adding to the whole ‘robot theory’ I spoke about before. His trademark move is actually catching the ball (on the opponents try line) and taking the ball 100 metres to score a try. Honestly if you don’t believe me watch these highlights and tell me how many include a full field try by Slater. The crux of all of this is that Billy Slater is a specimen. Somebody who we are lucky to have seen grace our football field.
Matty (aka Brother Charlton) was never a fan of Billy Slater. Most of the time when speaking about Slater it normally was preceded by the ‘eff’ word. His idea of Slater was changed after the David Williams incident last year. Where Billy didn’t move a muscle for fear that Wolfman may have broken his neck. Whilst cradling his neck he called for help from the referee. Matty constantly refers to this moment after Slater does something amazing…especially when the amazing happens against South Sydney. This change in tone made me have a think about how I feel about Slater.
Its only since writing On the Try Line have I come to appreciate players like Slater. Besides his nasally voice (currently the only thing I can fault him for) Slater is the ultimate professional. On the field he is a shooting star that we get to watch in slow mo. I would compare Billy being on the field to Blake Griffin (NBA) on the court or Evgeni Malkin (NHL) on the ice. If these players are lurking around you can never not be on your guard (as a player) and you can’t leave your seat for fear of missing something (as a fan). Any second you know they will appear and do something fantastic. The hardest pill to swallow is Billy isn’t wearing a South’s or NSW jersey.
Honestly that’s the only reason I was on the ‘eff’ Billy Slater bandwagon for so many years. He never played for my teams. That’s a stupid reason to not appreciate someone as remarkable as ‘Billy The Kid’ (sidenote – this is his credited nickname on Wikipedia, couldn’t we have thought of something better, we need to review our nicknaming policy in the NRL). I should respect the fact that every game he walks into AFL territory and does something good for NRL. That should be enough but it never was. Like I said it’s only since writing these articles have I found myself saying “wow, Slater is involved in everything”.
Lets finish this article by me telling you what the future holds for ‘Robot Slater’. Billy is already a franchise player for Melbourne. He will give serious competition to the Dally M’s again this year if he continues down this route. I also think his offense and Cameron Smiths defence could see the Storm playing Grand Final football. (nerd side note – this one’s for anyone in I.T, Smith is the backend, Cronk in the middleware and Slater is the front end…that felt good…thank you nerds). Last prediction, very far in the future they will still be saying “Billy Slater still holds the record for most amount of tries for a fullback”. We are in the presence of greatness people – I thought I’d just let you know. That’s what we do here ‘On The Try Line’.