Storm fullback Billy Slater hopes to return in Round 1, 2017.

When Slater wanted to be a Cowboy

By his own admission, growing up in Innisfail automatically made Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater a Cowboys supporter. 

Fans up north get behind their homegrown hero in a Maroons jersey every season and were no doubt throwing their support behind him during this year's Origin series as Queensland's No.1 made a stellar return to the representative arena.   

But on Sunday Slater will be out to end the dream of his former favourite team and bring a close to their fairy-tale finals run.

"I certainly supported the Cowboys growing up," Slater said ahead of the decider on Sunday.

"I was a Broncos fan and then the Cowboys came into the competition in 1995. 

"Growing up in North Queensland Reggie Cressbrook was one of my favourite players and I used to run around in the backyard with a Cowboys jersey on."

While some sections of the media claimed Slater was snubbed by the club during his junior days in North Queensland, the 34-year-old said it wasn't the case.

He had an ambition to be a race jockey more than anything else back then, and rugby league was only in the background. 

"I was a small kid and it's hard to pick everyone up," he said.

"I didn't make too many rep sides up there, never represented North Queensland and didn't play for a Queensland side until Origin. 

"There's no hard feelings on my behalf [that] I didn't get to play for the Cowboys."

And why would there be hard feelings?

Slater has never looked back. He's done everything possible in the game and won every award there is.

While the record books will say he only has one premiership next to his name after a salary cap mess stripped the Storm of their 2007 and 2009 titles, Slater has never seen it that way.

The 2009 Clive Churchill medallist said he didn't believe the Storm needed to win on Sunday to rectify the record books after earning just one official premiership in a dominant 10-year era.

"In short, no. I don't think we do," Slater said.

"I don't look at the big picture of how many premierships we've won or how many were taken off – this year is for the 2017 Melbourne Storm team.

"We play the game to be successful and it's been a great career since I've been here."

Melbourne have won their last five games against the Cowboys including both encounters between the two sides in 2017, but Sunday's fixture will mark the first time the clubs have met in Sydney for more than a decade.

The Cowboys are on a roll and Slater is preparing for a stronger fight than the Round 22 contest in Townsville when the Storm raced to a comfortable win. 

"We're at the starting blocks again," Slater said.

"They've got some good players and experienced players. Most have played in a grand final before.

"They've got contributors across the park who are doing a fantastic job and are hanging in there when times are tough.

"When they get their opportunities they take them."

The Storm will be looking to send star halfback Cooper Cronk out a winner, with back-rower Tohu Harris and bench forwards Jordan McLean and Slade Griffin also departing the club at the end of the season.

"Cooper has been a fantastic player for this club for a long time and done so much for the success of this club bringing younger guys through," Slater said.

"His performances every week are as courageous as any Melbourne Storm has played.

"As important as it to send him out on a good note, this is much more than Cooper Cronk. I'm sure Cooper would say himself it's not about him.

"If we perform well, Cooper will get the send-off he deserves."