Billy wins Dally M Medal
Melbourne Storm fullback and proud Suzuki ambassador Billy Slater has been named the league’s best and fairest player for season 2011 in a thrilling Dally M Medal count.
Slater – who sat out the Storm’s final match of the season – was forced to endure an agonising wait as he clung to a two-point lead going into the final round of voting.
The nervous wait came after Slater had surged to the lead by polling two points or more in every match between Rounds 19 to 24.
While Storm team-mate Cooper Cronk, Sharks captain Paul Gallen and Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston had all challenged for the Medal as voting unfolded, it was Marshall who seemed poised to snatch the game’s highest individual honour after bursting into contention with three man-of-the match performances in four rounds.
But the Wests Tigers star failed to poll points in his final match, courtesy of a starring performance by team-mate Robbie Farah, leaving Slater (29 points) to claim his first Dally M Medal from Marshall (27) and Cronk (25).
Slater’s memorable triumph capped an unforgettable night for the Melbourne club, which walked away with seven Dally M awards, including three to Cameron Smith, named Captain, Hooker and Representative Player of the Year.
Slater also picked up the Dally M Fullback of the Year, with Copper Cronk named Halfback of the Year and Craig Bellamy Coach of the Year.
Suzuki Australia would like to congratulate Billy, Cam, Craig, Cooper and the entire Storm team for their efforts during season 2011.
In accepting the Dally M Player of the Year, Slater acknowledged everyone who had helped his career, and in particular his family and wife Nicole.
"I'm thrilled to win it," Slater said.
"(I'd like to thank) everyone that's been involved in my career, whether it be when I was a four year old kid when I first picked up the footy and started playing, to our coach Craig Bellamy, and everyone who's been on the coaching staff at the Melbourne Storm, everyone I've played alongside at the Storm, for Queensland and also Australia.
"My family have been great supporters of mine...and probably my wife Nicole. She's always stuck by me and we've had some ups and downs on this journey but that's what life is about.
"It's about how you get off the canvas and hold yourself, and that's how you'll be remembered.
"You don't play the game for these individual honours, but they're great when they come along.
"Everyone says it's a team sport and no individual can go out there and perform to the best of their ability without 12 other blokes on the field at that particular time doing their job.
"That's what we're about at the Melbourne Storm, just everyone playing their role and doing the best job that they can for the Storm."