Toughest guys around.
That’s what I hear when we talk about NRL. Or even, men’s sports more broadly.
They go hard. They hurt one another. They hurt themselves.
Their greatest joy is winning. With the lads. Because those boys are the best bunch they’ve ever played with.
We don’t often hear what happens off the field. And if we do, it’s not always pretty (just take a look at the allegations from Abby Gilmore, the ex-wife of AFL star, Jake Stringer, that emerged over the weekend).
This the narrative we hear about NRL.
So, when I woke up this morning to see emotional pictures of Billy Slater filling up the morning news, something felt different. It felt good.
Sure, he was completely overwhelmed with the glory of his team’s win. It was, dare I use the cliche, a “fairy tale” ending.
But, that has been somewhat sidelined to the coverage of Slater’s dedication to his wife, while accepting the Clive Churchill Medal for best on field.
In a special thank you to his wife, Nicole, Slater had to pause for a number of moments, for all that she had done to support his career.
“I’d just like to finish off by thanking one more person…and that’s my wife,” the 34-year-old told the roaring crowd.
“It’s been a rocky road the last couple of years, but I certainly couldn’t be standing here, without your support. So, thank you for everything you’ve done for me over my career, but especially the past couple of years.
“Love you, darl.”
The tears didn’t end there, will Slater welling up during other post-game interviews.
I’ve seen footballers get misty-eyed before. They’re just so overwhelmed by the win. It’s everything they have worked so darn hard for.
Listen: Should sporting matches have a trigger warning for gruesome injury replays? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss. Post continues after audio.