Storm's Billy Slater to reach 250 NRL matches
Something pretty dramatic will have to happen in Billy Slater's 250th NRL game on Saturday for it to top his first match for the Melbourne Storm. Or his 249th, for that matter.
Slater will join Cameron Smith and the retired Matt Geyer as the only Storm players to reach the 250-game mark in the clash with Penrith at AAMI Park.
It will be a day of double celebrations, with Smith's 263rd first-grade game taking him past Geyer's all-time club record, four days after the skipper signed a four-year contract extension.
''I'm sure other guys who are off-contract would look at Cam's situation and see a guy like him will be leading the side for the next five years and they will want to be a part of that as well,'' said Slater.
''It certainly is an incentive to go to a club where you've got players and people like Cameron Smith involved.''
The club, Queensland and Australian careers of Smith and Slater have followed remarkably similar trajectories.
''The one game that really stands out would be my first game,'' Slater said today.
''I know it's a long time ago but I still remember the round-one clash of 2003 against Cronulla.
''We were actually 22-0 down in the first half and came back and won that game.
''That was my debut and I was very fortunate to share that debut with Dallas Johnson, and it was Craig Bellamy's first game as head coach of the Storm. That was a special game and one that certainly stays in the memory bank.''
Last weekend's remarkable recovery against Manly followed was very similar - the Storm coming from 20-0 down at Brookvale Oval to win 23-22 in golden point extra-time with the first field goal of Smith's stellar career.
''It was a great win and it's great to be a part of those wins, but you don't want to be doing that too often,'' said the 30-year-old Slater.
The champion fullback was confident the third member of Melbourne's big three - halfback Cooper Cronk - would prove his fitness following shoulder surgery in time to play his first match of 2014 against the Panthers.