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Slater ready for big finals series

By Andrew Marmont‌, ‌‌‌NRL.com

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'In form' Billy Slater against the Newcastle Knights. Photo: Paul Barkley © NRL Photos

Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater says he is cherishing what could be his last finals series in the NRL.

Slater has played close to 300 first-grade games but injury ruled him out of the Storm's knockout matches in 2015 and 2016. He's enjoyed an injury-free year and is looking forward to adding impact to the Storm over the few weeks.

"This year I've got an opportunity to play [finals] and I'm really looking forward to playing my best football," Slater said.

The Storm champion still hasn't decided on whether to play on next year, but insists winning a premiership wouldn't influence his decision to retire.

"I need to focus on each game. It's short term for me," he said. 

"If next year comes around and I feel like I can contribute to the team and I want to play on, I'll be standing here next year. But until then, I'm just focusing on enjoying the moment and what I have in front of me.

"I've always said it's physical with me. Mentally you can sign me up for another three years, I'm there to play. 

"I've won premierships before. It's not the be all and end all."

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Slater, Smith and Croft celebrate during the Storms win over the Knights and securing the 2017 minor premiership. Photo: Paul Barkley © NRL Photos

Slater has featured in 26 finals games spanning his 14-year career, winning 17 and losing nine. 

Even though winning the club's third minor premiership is good reward for their season so far, Slater said it was more important that the team needed to build good habits and consistency ahead of the finals games.

"It's really rewarding winning the minor premiership," he said. 

"We're really proud of how hard we've worked to get to this point. [But] I think we all know that the performance over the next six weeks will determine our season.

"The thing that I've worked out over the years is yes, the position is important and finishing first is going to give us a great advantage going into finals, but if you're not playing good enough football when you get there and you haven't got those good habits in your game, you can be out in two weeks.

"You can't just turn up in September and turn it all on. You need to be playing consistent football."


This article first appeared on NRL.com

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