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Storm fullback Billy Slater.

For many, Billy Slater is rugby league in Melbourne.

The 35-year-old fullback will run onto AAMI Park for the last time on Friday night when the Storm take on the Sharks in their grand final qualifier.

And Slater, who will retire at the end of the season, is at peace whether he goes around again next week or falls a game short of the big dance.

"It's pretty special," he said on Tuesday leading into his final game in Melbourne.

"This club and this city has given me an opportunity to do what I've done in the last 16 years, and to be honest, they were the first and only club who gave me that opportunity. I'm grateful for that and hopefully I could say goodbye in the right way on Friday night."

He was typically humble when asked about whether the focus should be on if this will be last game in Storm colours.

"The situation we're in is far bigger than myself," he said.

"If we play well, we'll get ourselves in a position to play in a grand final, which is what we've been working for over the last 11 months."

Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.
Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. ©NRL Photos

Slater, set to play his 317th first-grade game, was speaking after artist Sid Tapia painted a giant mural of the fullback outside Richmond train station in the heart of Melbourne's sporting precinct.

His preparation won't change and he'll remain as focused as ever in his bid to prolong his NRL career for one more game – and attempt to win back-to-back titles, the first since the Brisbane Broncos of 1992-1993.

The Storm No.1 will face up against Valentine Holmes, a man he's helped developed into one of the Sharks' best players this year while in camp with the Maroons and Kangaroos.

In one of his last interviews as a Storm player, he gave an insight into why he's rated as one of the best fullbacks to play the game: he's always analysing the opposition.

Slater: It’s not about me

"We need to firstly know and communicate where he is at all times," Slater said of Holmes.

"He'll be an indicator of where they're setting up their structure. But he's also a damaging runner – our kick chases will need to be first-class, or he'll get them off to a good start."

Melbourne are likely to be at full strength with Will Chambers back at centre and Nelson Asofa-Solomona on the bench.

 

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