Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater says signing on for the 2018 NRL season is his way of repaying the faith shown in him by the NRL club through his injury crisis.
The 34-year-old announced at the club’s end of season award night that he would play next season and left the door open to playing beyond that.
Slater returned to the NRL this season after 18 months out of the game following two shoulder reconstructions.
He helped the Storm to the premiership on Sunday while winning the Clive Churchill Medal, earned a return to the Kangaroos, helped Queensland win Origin and also won the Dally M fullback award.
“This club’s given me so much,” Slater said.
“The commitment that they showed me and the loyalty that they showed me only 18 months ago when I was going for my second shoulder operation – the uncertainty over whether I would ever play rugby league again – this club never showed me once that they were hesitant of putting a contract in front of me and they gave me an opportunity to play again this year.
“I didn’t know myself whether I was going to be fit enough to wear a Melbourne storm jersey again but I’m really really grateful for that opportunity that they’ve given me.”
Slater said he’d been thinking about his decision over the past few months but made the final call after the grand final victory.
“Over the last couple of months I’ve had a pretty clear idea but I didn’t want to make a decision and then regret it down the track.
“I honestly left the decision to post season and that’s where I am now.
“It was just something over the last couple of days I had a good chance to think about it but I feel now I can go on and contribute again next year.”
After the grand final Slater spoke of his wife Nicole’s support which helped him return to the pinnacle of the game and said she and his two children were keen for him to play in 2018.
“It’s rewarding to see that they’re at an age to remember these days and they’ll remember that grand final for the rest of their life,” he said.
“My wife’s opinion means a lot; she’s fully supportive of my decision.”
While only signing a one-year deal Slater didn’t rule out playing on past 2018.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m definitely retiring then but it’s more than likely it’s going to be my last year,” he said.