Australian rugby league legend Billy Slater will finish his “unbelievable” career at the end of the season.
Slater retires as a two-time winner of the World Cup and NRL Premiership, and eight-time State of Origin champion.
The full-back, who spent his entire 16-year career at Melbourne Storm, retired from international rugby in May having made 30 appearances for his country.
“I feel so lucky to have the career I have had,” said the 35-year-old, who scored 187 tries in 313 NRL matches.
Slater was part of the Storm side that won the NRL Grand Final in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2017, but the club was stripped of the first two for breaching the competition’s strict salary cap rules.
He collected two Clive Churchill medals – given to the man of the match in the NRL Grand Final – and a Dally M medal – the NRL player of the year award.
An emotional Slater thanked his team-mates, fans, coaches, sponsors and family, and told reporters the decision to retire was not an easy one.
“Eighteen years ago I made the decision to pack my car up and chase my dream,” he said. “I’ve always felt extremely grateful and loyal to this club.”
Storm head coach Craig Bellamy said Slater was the best full-back he had ever seen.
“It’s a sad day without doubt,” said Bellamy, “Having said that, we should celebrate what has been an unbelievable career.”