Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy admits superstar fullback Billy Slater’s NRL career is in jeopardy.
Slater’s season is over after he underwent a second reconstruction on his left shoulder inside a year and was ruled out for at least six months.
Slater, who had surgery on Tuesday, will turn 33 this year and despite being contracted until the end of 2017, there are doubts whether he can return to the game.
“I don’t want to really think about that and I’m sure Billy doesn’t,” Bellamy told the Triple M Grill Team on Wednesday.
“It will be on how the operation has gone this time and how he goes in his rehab and recovery.
“I think he will need to sit back and take a few breaths and do the best rehab that we can and go from there.”
Slater made his NRL debut in Bellamy’s first game in charge of the Storm in 2003, and the pair have an extremely close working relationship.
“I think in Billy’s mind just talking to him he doesn’t want to finish like this,” Bellamy said.
“If there’s any chance he can get back and it’s not going to jeopardise his future shoulder-wise so he can lead a normal life after footy, then I’d like to think that he’ll go out on a better note than this.”
Bellamy also suggested he could tell through the majority of the pre-season that Slater’s shoulder was still not 100 per cent.