Loyal Slater repays faith
Billy Slater will end his career as a one-club legend after finally putting pen to paper on a new two-year deal with the Storm.
The extension will see the 32-year-old remain in Melbourne until at least the end of the 2017 season, all but ensuring he will play his entire career in the purple jersey.
The new deal should also see Slater join great mate Cameron Smith as the only players to reach the 300-game milestone for Melbourne, with the custodian having made 277 first grade appearances to date.
It is welcome news for Storm fans that would have been forgiven for growing rather uneasy as the back end of this season approached and the fan favourite looked set to fall out of contract.
However the man who once walked into the club as a former apprentice jockey looking for a chance was adamant the possibility of wearing a different coloured No.1 jersey next year had never entered his mind.
"I can honestly sit here today and say that I have never seriously sat down with my manager and considered playing at any other club than the Melbourne Storm," Slater said.
"There has been a bit of talk over the last couple of days about loyalty in the game, in my case I feel extremely loyal towards the Melbourne Storm and I feel the Melbourne Storm have been extremely loyal to me.
"It [the contract] has taken a little bit longer than I expected but sometimes that happens. I've never considered or thought about playing for anyone else but the Melbourne Storm.
"They were the only club to give me an opportunity, I drove down to Brisbane to play football, to chase my dream. I feel very privileged that I can finish my career down in Melbourne where it all started."
Slater has been sidelined since Origin II after undergoing shoulder surgery that put an end to his 2015 season.
It was the latest setback in a string of shoulder troubles that have plagued the Maroons and Kangaroos fullback over the last few years.
Along with playing 277 games for the Storm, Slater has represented Queensland on 27 occasions and worn the green and gold 22 times.
Such a workload over the last 12 years has taken its toll but the champion fullback remains hopeful of continuing to play representative footy as is confident come Round One next year the NRL will once again see a fully-fit Billy Slater.
"It [shoulder] is something I've had to deal with in the last six or so years," Slater said.
"Injuries are something I have become accustomed to. I've got no doubt come next year it will not even be in my mind when I enter the field.
"I will be making sure it is 100 per cent right come the start of next season."
Since the curtain fell on his 2015 season in mid-June, he has watched, like the rest of the competition, the emergence of young prodigy Cameron Munster.
Since Slater underwent the season-ending surgery Munster has stepped in at fullback and averaged 185 metres per game and has scored five tries in his last three starts.
"I will be running the water next year," Slater said with his trademark grin.
But when asked how he saw himself co-existing in the same side as his 20-year-old counterpart going into next season, Slater was quick to remind everyone that it was nothing he wasn't used to.
"I remember the days when Greg Inglis was in this side. You look at Greg play now and obviously his preferred and most dangerous position is fullback," Salter said.
"Cameron is a talented enough player to play in a number of positions. He has played in the centres up in the Queensland Cup, I think he could even play in the halves if it was needed or on the wing."
The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.