Injured Slater to miss four games
After fearing he'd be out for the weekend, Melbourne is now facing an entire month without star fullback Billy Slater.
The Storm have confirmed that Slater will spend the next four weeks on the sidelines.
On Wednesday morning Slater said he was in doubt to miss the Round 6 clash with the Raiders but hoped he would not miss any more playing time.
However scans later that afternoon revealed a less optimistic prognosis. A labral tear in the Glenohumeral joint in his right shoulder is the official diagnosis.
Slater suffered a sprained AC joint in his opposite shoulder last season that saw him miss three games.
The club revealed this latest injury in an aggravation of one that Slater has managed over the past few years.
A Manu Vatuvei tackle crunched Slater in the first half of the club's 30-14 win over the Warriors and left him clutching his left shoulder in severe pain.
Despite playing out the game in a near best-on-field performance, further assessment has led to the news being worse that initially thought.
"We all know Billy is an extremely tough and resilient player and the fact he bravely played on against the Warriors is testament to that," Storm football director Frank Ponissi said.
"In typical Billy fashion, he will do everything right in his rehabilitation to get back to playing for Melbourne Storm in four weeks time."
Beyond this week's trip to Canberra, the Storm have back-to-back home fixtures against the Roosters and Sea Eagles.
The timeframe for recovery also means Slater is in serious doubt for the annual Trans Tasman test against the Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium on May 1.
The 31-year-old admitted he never saw Vatuvei coming before the fateful tackle.
"He snuck up on me the big fella, I honestly didn't see him coming until I was on the ground," Slater said.
"He is a good fella Manu, I get along really well with him, as soon as he realised I was in a bit of pain his main focus was to make sure I was okay.
"He even asked as we were walking off at halftime if I was alright but obviously when we are out on the field we don't hold back."
Fullback prodigy Cameron Munster is the likely replacement for Slater, having made his debut during last year's Origin period.
Kurt Mann is another that could shift to the No.1 given the club's depth in the outside backs.
Melbourne take on the Raiders at 2pm this Sunday at GIO Stadium.