This week we saw Billy Slater claim the game’s most coveted individual award … the Dally M Medal, holding off a fast-finishing Benji Marshall to claim the prize.
Slater is my favourite player to watch. His blinding speed is there for all to see, but there is more to Billy than speed alone. Next time you watch the Storm play, watch him closely. The work he does off the ball; the support play when nothing is on; the toughness to turn up in support to score a try when he is fatigued; the awareness to be on the inside or out the back of his ballplayers; the awareness of when to pass or back his speed … I could go on and on.
Quite frankly the guy is a freak. He has turned games consistently now for over five years and I have no doubt he is the most valuable player in our game, followed by his captain Cameron Smith. Put them in the same team and it’s no wonder Melbourne are the team to beat again. Slater is the best fullback i have seen, and could well be the best we have ever seen.
From Melbourne to Perth, there is a lot of excitement in WA with talk of the NRL looking at expansion in 2015. The NRL has spent some time promoting the game in Perth in recent years. I have been there twice this year in my role as a One Community Ambassador and after my last trip I am even more impressed by what they have to offer.
Perth is a great city, warm weather, nice beaches, no traffic, friendly people and a community that loves its sport. The WARL are well placed financially. The mining industry is enormous in WA and Government is also a huge backer of the move to get a NRL team. The time difference will suit live television in the Eastern states giving networks the luxury of consecutive live games on Friday nights or Sunday afternoons.
Attracting marquee players and coaches to Perth wouldn’t be a problem. They have the resources, facilities and vision to make it an exciting proposition for any player. John Sackson and his Board of Directors are being very proactive in preparation for the opportunity and hope that they will be included in our expanded competition. I attended the WARL grand final which South Perth won and the locals are more than excited about having their own team. With the mining industry going so well a lot families are moving west and bringing with them Rugby League backgrounds which will only strengthen the local competition.
Other codes have been travelling from Perth for years and the time spent in the air isn’t a problem for them if it’s handled professionally. Travelling teams can often form stronger relationships within a club due to the extra time they are spending together on the road. Perth would be a great option for the NRL and, if we are serious about truly having a national competition, then it’s a no-brainer ... it just has to be done properly.