The Real Reason Billy Slater Is Heading To St Kilda
It is not the done thing for a parochial Queenslander to admit that he or she is happy residing in another state of Australia.
But with the announcement overnight that Melbourne Storm NRL legend Slater will take up a newly-created off-field leadership and development role with St Kilda in the AFL, there is one thing we can confirm...
We knew it anyway because he's spoken about it before, but Billy Slater -- a kid who grew up mostly barefoot among the banana plantations of Innisfail, Queensland -- absolutely loves the city of Melbourne.
He also loves the property he and wife Nicole have bought on the Mornington Peninsula, within easy reach of Melbourne, where they have horses.
Slater worked as a trackwork rider earning $5.12 an hour for Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Gai Waterhouse in the years when he was a skinny teenager who wasn't yet sure he would shoot for a career in rugby league.
He knows horses, he loves horses, and he may yet end up as a trainer of horses. Where better in Australia to do that than the home of Australia's greatest horse race?
Meanwhile, St Kilda welcomed Slater with open arms, saying his sporting resume was second to none.
"Over the course of the season, we identified that there was an opportunity to strengthen our leadership and development programs, and we think Billy can play an important role in that," St Kilda general manager of football Simon Lethlean said.
"He will work closely with our current leaders as well as our emerging leaders to help them develop their leadership capacity and optimise their professionalism and performance."
Some well-known St Kilda fans even suggested he might be useful with the boots on.
The move surprised some in the sporting world, as Slater will also start a part-time specialist coaching role with the Storm in the NRL pre-season, which starts in November. But the Storm have given their champ full support.
"Slater will be able to share his wisdom, professionalism and champion mentality that he mastered over a stellar 319 games in the purple jersey," the club said.
Interestingly, the Storm did a reverse of the sort of thing Slater is now doing back in 2015, when former Collingwood premiership captain Nick Maxwell came in to work closely with the Storm playing group.
They made the next three grand finals, including one premiership.
St Kilda, meanwhile, have not made the AFL finals since 2011. A lot of people will be hoping Slater can help. This we know: it sure can't hurt.