Billy Slater gains new appreciation for AFL after Saints work


But after spending pre-season working at the Saints, Slater said he had extra respect for the skills and intricacies of the indigenous code.

On Monday the Storm announced they would name the northern stand at AAMI Park the Slater Stand for their home games and the man himself was asked if his time at the Saints made him wonder if he could have played in the AFL.

“What I’ve realised is that it’s a totally different game. It’s not like jumping from rugby league to rugby union,” Slater said.

“You nearly have to grow up playing it. You saw the challenges Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau faced when they made the switch.

“In the circumstances they were quite successful, especially Karmichael.

“I think it’s where you grow up and what you grow up playing – a lot of the AFL players could have played rugby league if they grew up in that environment and vice versa.

“They are two totally different sports, I’m enjoying my time on the training field with the guys and learning a few different things but I’m very and comfortable with what I’ve done in my career.”

The Saints put out a social media video during the pre-season of Slater kicking an impressive drop punt but Slater joked that kick was one of his rare good ones.

Slater said he found his form of code-hopping “refreshing”.

“It’s a lot of preparation for two totally different skill sets but the principles are still the same,” Slater said.

“They are both in a team sport, everyone has to pull in the same direction to achieve a common goal.

“I’m learning the parts of their game and how I can contribute and help their younger guys, at the same time I come back here to Storm and I know where I can contribute and how I can help the guys.

“I’m looking forward to seeing both of the teams getting into the season and seeing some results from the hard work they are putting in.”

Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.

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