SLATER FOCUS ON SHARKS, NOT RETIRING
Storm champion Billy Slater has shelved retirement thoughts to focus on doing his bit to keep the club’s premiership dream alive. The reigning premier Storm will host the Cronulla Sharks on Friday night at AAMI Park in search of a third consecutive grand final appearance. But Slater, who announced his retirement last month, hasn’t dwelt on the fact his football mortality could be only 80 minutes away after 16 highly decorated seasons. “It’s really weird,” Slater said ahead of Friday night’s preliminary final. “It’s snuck up on me. I haven’t really thought about it. “My full focus and energy is going into playing well. That’s all I want to do. “I understand the situation that I’m in, but it doesn’t feel like that situation. “It doesn’t feel like I’m approaching my last ever game ... hopefully, it’s not.” Slater helped the Storm move into a 10th preliminary final in 13 years with another vintage performance last Friday week in the club’s come-from-behind one-point win over South Sydney. He set up the first of two Suliasi Vunivalu tries with a dummy and double-handed overhead pass to release the Fijian excitement machine in space deep in red zone. The two-time premiership fullback toasted the crucial win with teammates and family. “To win the way we did (against Souths), fighting back, it just meant a lot,” Slater said. “That’s what you play for, those feelings after the game in the dressing sheds with your mates singing the song and sitting down talking about incidental things that happen. “I feel very grateful to be able to share these moments with my family.”
END IS NIGH: Billy Slater in front of a mural of himself at Richmond train station.