Slater refuses to think of retirement
MELBOURNE Storm champion Billy Slater has shelved retirement thoughts to focus solely on doing his bit to keep the club's premiership dream alive.
The reigning premier Storm will host Cronullaon Friday night at AAMI Park in search of a third consecutive grand final appearance.
But Slater, who announced his retirement last month, hasn't dwelled on the fact his football mortality could be only 80 minutes away after 16 highly-decorated seasons.
"It's really weird," Slater told the Herald Sun ahead of Friday night's cutthroat 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.
Slater clocked 102 metres against the Bunnies, along with four tackle busts and two line-break assists.
The two-time premiership fullback toasted the crucial win, which afforded the Storm a week off and chance to iron out any bumps and bruises, 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.
"My kids have been ball kids for the last couple of years. Last year's grand final they were delivering the kicking tee out, being ball kids and high-fiving me during the match.
"That's a pretty special. They're moments I'm more grateful for, rather than sad I'm going to miss."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has a full list to pick from with forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona (ankle) having proved his fitness last week and Will Chambers eligible for selection after a three-game ban.
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