Slater tipped to fin­ish in style with back-to-back Churchill Medals

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - 2018 GRAND FINAL - PETER BADEL

BILLY Slater will win the Clive Churchill Medal tonight.

That is the opin­ion of Bron­cos leg­end Darren Lock­yer, who be­lieves the re­tir­ing Mel­bourne cham­pion is primed to go out in style in the de­cider against the Roost­ers tonight.

Slater has had a tur­bu­lent build-up with the Queens­land Ori­gin star over­com­ing a drama-charged trip to the NRL ju­di­ciary, where he suc­cess­fully ar­gued he should not sus­pended for a shoul­der charge.

But Lock­yer is adamant the dis­rupted prepa­ra­tion will not af­fect Slater, back­ing the classy full­back to be­come the first man in history to win back-to­back Clive Churchill Medals.

The TAB have in­stalled Slater as the $4 favourite to be man-of-the-match in his 319th and fi­nal game in the NRL.

“I see Billy be­ing more in­volved than he usu­ally is,” said Lock­yer, who won the Clive Churchill Medal in Bris­bane’s grand-fi­nal de­feat of the Roost­ers in 2000.

“Be­ing cleared of sus­pen­sion ear­lier in the week will have re­leased the men­tal shack­les for Slater.

“His big-game ex­pe­ri­ence will be in­valu­able in or­gan­is­ing Mel­bourne’s of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive struc­tures. I sense he is ready for a man-of-the-match per­for­mance.”

Slater’s skip­per Cameron Smith, who missed the 2008 grand fi­nal through sus­pen­sion, spoke of his Slater re­lief.

“It was a pretty ner­vous 48 hours we had to go through,” he said. “We’re talk­ing about Billy Slater’s last game, so there was a lot more rid­ing on the ju­di­ciary’s de­ci­sion.

“I felt sick in the guts for Billy. It was quite a good feel­ing once we knew he was right to play. It is great for rugby league and rugby league fans to see Billy Slater play one more game.”

The Storm’s Billy Slater.

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