Why Billy Slater is the best fullback ever
Billy Slater is just absolutely unbelievable. He, along with Cooper Cronk and captain Cameron Smith form Melbourne Storm’s ‘big three’ and have set up so many wins and been instrumental over a period of consistent success over the last half a decade. All three of their positions are key but Slater just keeps on excelling. When you think he has done something special and now you’ve seen everything, the next week he just goes on to stun you yet again with something even more extroadinary.
A full-back requires just about the safest hands in the team and Slater has been ever-reliable to the point where he is a virtual automatic section for the position in the Queensland and Kangaroos squads.
Whoever says this guy isn’t the best fullback ever, what more does he have to do to prove that he is? So many fullbacks are reliable so what is that ‘Billy The Kid’ has that makes him the best ever? Well, he’s the X-factor, the line-breaker, the try-scorer, the ingenious, freakish play-maker; he really has the whole package.
He has got the accolades from esteemed NRL figures as well. His own coach acknowledged Slater as the best player, to don a no.1 jersey, that he’s ever seen. Other league experts such as Laurie Daley and Andrew Johns have claimed Slater as being the best player in the game, let alone best fullback.
The two men possibly standing in the way in the mantle for best fullback ever are Graeme Langlands and Clive Churchill. Both of these Immortals of the game had both retired by 1975, so there is a significant generation gap and therefore it’s always hard to compare eras. The recently retired Darren Lockyer, unanimously agreed as a legend of the game, might also have come into contention. But he only played half of his career in that position before switching to five-eighth.
The game has evolved dramatically since 1975. It has become more professional and the intensity of the game has soared to another stratosphere since then. So far this year, Slater has been incredible and firmed into favourite for both the leading try-scorer and the Dally M Medal, which he’d just won last year. He became the first player in the game’s history, in any position, to score two tries in every game in the first four rounds.
Nous, vision, versatility and composure under pressure are some of the makings of a great player and Slater possesses all of these and more to put him a class above most others. His value to a team’s set-up is unquantifiable. He is simply the best fullback the game has ever seen.
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