The legacy of Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater – and the legend that is his wife Nicole
Billy Slater has had one hell of a career for Melbourne Storm over the past 15 years. Since joining the team in 2003, he has remained consistent and loyal to them, never wavering throughout his NRL career. However, on August 8th of this year, he announced he would finally be retiring, at the age of 35.
The Highlights of Billy’s Career
He’s had a good run – a really good run, by anyone’s standards. He has captained games for Melbourne Storm, Queensland State of Origin – since he hails from Innisfail – and even the Australian International team.
He’s won two grand finals, set records – including most ever tries for his team and the NRL record for most ever tries by a fullback – and his number of tries (currently 188) is the second highest in the league’s history, second only to Ken Irvine. When playing for the Kangaroos, he was the world cup of 2008’s top try scorer and won the Boot Award as the World Player of that year.
Will Slater go out on a final high by being part of the team to be crowned the NRL Grand Final Winner on 30th September? Honestly, who knows. If you want to know the official odds, you can head to Oddschecker for live updates. But if you’re a fan? You’ve just got to hope he defies them all and helps his team through to one last victory.
Who is Nicole Slater?
Of course, “behind every man, there’s a great woman” – or so they say – and this couldn’t be truer of Billy. His wife, Nicole Slater, met him when they were both the tender age of 14 and so there’s thankfully no debate as to whether she’s a glory hunter or anything of the sort.
The brunette looks like the ideal WAG – beautiful, well-dressed and certainly financially stable, she’s an individual in her own right and this shines through in everything she does. She’s not false by any means and so she’s not like certain other WAGs. She’s passionate about horses and farm life – in fact, the pair met at pony club. They even recently moved to the stunning Mornington Peninsula to really embrace that aspect of their lives – they really embrace the outdoor world.
Nicole married Billy in November 2009 in Cairns and the pair have two children together, named Jake and Tyla Rose. Nicole and the children are all fierce supporters of Billy and his career. She has stuck by him through thick and thin. But in addition to all of that, Nicole is her own independent person – an accomplished artist, selling beautiful prints through her business called “Nicole Rose Art”. She focuses on animals and the natural world and she’s clearly very talented indeed.
Nicole is also pretty down to earth. She’s constantly in the public eye and, while she looks stunning, she does have certain body hang-ups, just like most women. However, she’s able to embrace what she sees as flaws and “love herself”, all without obsessing or fixating too much.
She’s genuine, loving and supporting – her charm and looks are just the cherry on top.
It’s not always been easy for Billy and Nicole, and perhaps this is what has made them so strong over a relationship that’s spanned around two decades. One of the many setbacks of being an NRL professional player is the risk of injury, which only increases as you age. Following injuries and subsequent surgeries, there was a strain on Billy as he couldn’t play – and as he told the media earlier this year, this meant that Nicole had to “bear the load and look after the kids”. Nicole is clearly valuable not only to Billy, but to the family unit as a whole.
There was also an incident which took place in the UK in 2013. After a nightclub altercation in Manchester, Billy was detained by the British police following up their lines of enquiry. However, Nicole remained strong throughout this and came to his defence. She spoke out against violence after he was released without charge and said “this has got to stop” – referring to one-punch violent attacks that can prove fatal.
And of course, we can’t ignore the fact that Nicole was actually blamed for an explosive feud that took place between Billy Slater and his teammate Cameron Smith. The rumours stated that her falling out with his wife Barb in 2017 before they all went to a retreat in Fiji. However, Smith had nothing but kind words to say about Slater when he announced his retirement, even looking on in admiration and remarking on how close the two families had been at other points over the years.
Following the announcement of Billy stepping down from his impressive career, he was sure to thank those who really mattered the most. He credited individual players, coaches and of course, the team that showed him immense loyalty (as he did in return) over a period of almost 16 years.
But it was the tributes to his wife and kids that got the biggest emotional reaction, unsurprisingly. Of Nicole, Billy said:
“It’s been the tough times that you’ve been there for me most. The poor performances, the selection disappointments and the one that really hit us hard – injuries. You have given me unconditional love and support and although sitting up here and delivering this message today is extremely scary, knowing that I have you makes it comforting.”
She really has been an angel in sticking by his side. Despite the wealth and fame that must undoubtedly have come from that, there have of course been the hard times as well.
Slater also went on to say just how much it meant to him that his children, growing fast, have also been in the crowd throughout their lives in order to cheer him on. And that’s largely in thanks to Nicole, too – she’s been instrumental in raising them and indeed in raising them to be their father’s biggest cheerleaders.
It’s clear that Billy Slater is an incredibly talented man. It’s rare to see anyone with his agility, stamina, strength and just all-round, genuine talent for the rugby game. However, the reason Billy remains a beloved player across Australia – especially among fans – is because he has been so consistent both on and off the pitch. Nicole has surely played a big part in that, the rock by his side that’s made his life so full and therefore contributed to his huge success.
Billy will be missed from the rugby scene – but so too will Nicole.