Slater: I wanted to be a Cowboy

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater has revealed he grew up wanting to be a Cowboy. (AAP)

Ahead of Sunday's NRL grand final against North Queensland, Melbourne fullback Billy Slater has revealed he grew up wanting to be a Cowboy.

If Billy Slater had his way, he would have been the next Reggie Cressbrook.

As a kid growing up in Innisfail, about three hours north of Townsville, he idolised North Queensland's inaugural fullback.

He would run around his backyard in his Cowboys No.1 jumper, dreaming of one day wearing it in the NRL.

While Cressbrook is hardly considered one of the club's greats, he made a lasting impact on a young Slater.

"I certainly supported the Cowboys when I was growing up," Slater revealed as he prepares to play his 299th and perhaps final game for Melbourne in Sunday's grand final against North Queensland.

"I was a Broncos fan and then the Cowboys came into the competition in 1995 and I supported them growing up in North Queensland.

"Reggie Cressbrook was one of my favourite players, not many probably remember Reggie but he was a fullback playing for the Cowboys and I used to run around the backyard with a Cowboys jersey on."

But in a case of 'the one that got away', Slater grew up under the noses of the Cowboys' development scouts but was never offered a deal or place at the club.

At 17 he was given a chance at Queensland Cup club Norths Brisbane, then an affiliate of the Storm.

And the rest is history.

There he teamed with a young Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith for the first time and went on to become arguably the greatest fullback the game has ever seen.

So instead of lining up for the Cowboys at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night, he will be seeking his second premiership with the Storm.

Had he been picked up the Cowboys, the history of both clubs would have unfolded very differently.

However, there is no ill will from Slater.

"I actually didn't make too many rep sides up there," Slater said.

"I made the Innisfail district sides a fair bit but I never represented North Queensland, I didn't represent Queensland until State of Origin.

"I was a small kid coming through and in that area, it's really hard to pick everyone up.

"I understand that and there's no hard feelings on my behalf."

Source AAP

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