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