Melbourne fullback Billy Slater is trying to stay positive after the shattering news his return from shoulder surgery has stalled after just one game.
The Storm announced just before kick-off against Gold Coast at AAMI Park on Sunday that Slater was a late withdrawal and would undergo exploratory surgery after suffering soreness in his first game back last Monday from nine months on the sidelines.
Coach Craig Bellamy said until the operation this week the club had no idea of the extent of the injury and how long Slater would be out.
“He’s devastated, obviously … no that’s probably not the right word because Bill’s pretty optimistic so he’s going to wait and see what they find there but he’s obviously very disappointed and fairly frustrated after what he went through last year,” Bellamy said.
Slater made his first appearance in Storm colours since Origin II last year in their Monday night round one win over St George Illawarra and didn’t appear troubled by his shoulder in his 80-minute performance.
He made a number of incisive runs and had a hand in two tries but more importantly was strong in defence, throwing his body into tackles.
New Queensland coach Kevin Walters said he’d seen enough in Slater’s sole game to declare he would be back in their No.1 jersey for State of Origin, after missing the third game last year because of surgery.
But the 32-year-old pulled up sore and was sent for a scan, and will now undergo an arthroscope this week to determine the damage.
“We were hopeful he would come good but there’s something not quite right,” Bellamy said.
Melbourne captain and Slater’s close friend Cameron Smith said he saw how much work the Test custodian put into his rehabilitation.
“I’m just disappointed for him that the work he’s put in hasn’t gone right and he has to go back in but we’re all quite hopeful that it will just be something minor and he’ll just miss and couple of weeks and be back and ready to play for us,” Smith said.