Sydney - Australia
and Queensland great Billy Slater announced his retirement from
international and representative rugby league on Tuesday, in a bombshell
announcement ahead of the State of Origin series.
Slater said he would hang up his boots for Queensland and the
Kangaroos after the Origin series ends in July, becoming the latest in a
string of top players to scale back.
The 34-year-old fullback, considered one of the greatest ever to play
the game, will continue to line up for Melbourne Storm in Australia's
National Rugby League.
"I feel it is time," Slater, who has played 30 Tests for Australia and 29 games for Queensland, told reporters Tuesday.
"I'm 35 this year. I have been through a fair bit. This will be the
15th year I have played for Queensland. Honestly, I just think it's
Slater represented the Kangaroos in the 2008, 2013 and 2017 World Cup, lifting the trophy twice.
His decision came two weeks after another great, Cameron Smith,
also called time on his representative career. Queensland's Cooper Cronk
and Johnathan Thurston stepped back from national and representative
duties last year.
Slater said his decision was not influenced by the distinguished trio, adding that he "was always going to make this decision".
Queensland coach Kevin Walters hailed him as "a phenomenon".
"Most of the boys in the team know when they were growing up, they
wanted to be like Billy Slater and that's a direct representation of
where he stands among Queenslanders and in the game," Walters said.