There aren’t many accolades Billy Slater hasn’t achieved in a remarkable rugby league career and he capped off a remarkable comeback in 2017 with premiership glory on Sunday night and has also been included in the Australian side for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.

After close to two full seasons out of the game with shoulder injuries you would be forgiven for thinking Slater would be unable to recapture his best but he turned back the clock with a brilliant season, scoring 11 tries, including two in the decider to claim his second Clive Churchill medal.

Confirmation from Slater that he will play on in 2018 suggests he could have a real crack at one of rugby league’s longest-surviving records, that of most tries of all time.

The record, set by Manly and Norths flyer Ken Irvine of 212, is the Everest of rugby league stats, requiring a player to have a long and successful career in a moderately successful side to stand any chance, and if he has a reasonable season in 2018, and plays into 2019 Slater will surely claim the record for himself.

The likes of Nathan Blacklock enjoyed a purple patch between 1998-2001, scoring a remarkable 96 tries in 102 games, while Manu Vatuvei scored at least 10 tries in a season for 10 consecutive seasons between 2006-2015, but neither came close to Irvine.

Irvine enjoyed a stellar career with the Bears, amassing a ridiculous 171 tries in 176 games, between 1958-70, while a 60-game career for Manly between 1971-73 saw him add a further 41 tries to his tally, which, at 212, has remained ever since he retired.

Modern-day greats Steve Menzies (180), Andrew Ettingshausen (165), Terry Lamb (164), Brett Stewart (163), Matt Sing and Hazem El Masri (159) had a decent crack at the title, but Slater is currently second on the list with 183 tries, and two more seasons could realistically see him overtake Irvine, capping off a stellar rugby league career.

Of the current players, Greg Inglis (139), Brett Morris (137) and Michael Jennings (131) are well back, as is Shaun Kenny-Dowall (125), Akuila Uate (124) and Josh Morris (114) while Jason Nightingale (108) and Jarrod Croker (107) only cracked the century this season. The evergreen Luke Lewis is the other current player to have scored at least 100 tries, sitting on 118.

What sets Slater apart is the fact he has been scoring tries seemingly at will for so long as part of the greatest trio of teammates the game has ever seen, scoring at least 10 tries in 11 of his first 12 seasons in the NRL, including 53 tries in his first 69 games.

He surged past 100 tries way back in 2009, and in 2013 brought up 150 career tries. Injuries have restricted Slater to 13 tries over the last three seasons, having played just 29 games, but he is primed for a big year in 2018, where he could bring up the remarkable double of 300 games and 200 tries.

A modest return of say 15 tries in 2018 will see Slater move up to 198 tries, requiring just a further 15 in 2019 to set a new record.

Slater won’t want to play on in 2019 just to set this record, but his two-year absence from the game with shoulder injuries will actually benefit him at this stage of his career and if anyone can do it "Billy the Kid" can.

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