Slater's Kangaroos days not behind him
Hold your horses folks, Billy Slater won't be handing over his Kangaroos jersey just yet.
Slater's international career has been called into question over the last 24 hours after scans revealed he would miss the next four weeks with a left shoulder injury.
The news means that the 31-year-old is a near-certainty to miss the Trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand on May 1.
With Greg Inglis likely to step in at fullback there is a thought that Slater's days in the green and gold are over.
Raise that notion to those down south and you are understandably stopped in your tracks.
"All that sort of thing is certainly premature you would think," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.
"If all goes well he will be back in a month's time, so to say he will never play for Australia again, I'm not sure who thought up that one but perhaps they should have a rethink there.
"Based on what we've seen this year I'm pretty sure Billy Slater is quite capable of playing for Australian again no doubt."
Slater has a representative career to stand up with the best of them, having made 25 appearances for both his state and country.
While he will have to wait at least a month for the chance to silence his critics, Melbourne is faced with the more immediate dilemma of finding his replacement for Sunday's trip to Canberra.
First thoughts turn to Cameron Munster, a prodigious fullback of the club's development system who played his one and only NRL game in Round 12 last year after Slater injured his right shoulder in Origin I.
However should Bellamy dare tinker with the chemistry of his outside backs, Kurt Mann could well shift to the position he frequented for much of his developing years.
Although not a natural centre Mann has made himself a staple in the Storm line-up this season at No.4.
His partnership with Marika Koroibete has provided a shining light on the Storm's left edge, which makes for an interesting conundrum at the selection table.
"Kurt has probably played fullback more than anyone else at the club that is still available, so that is certainly an option for us," Bellamy said.
"But going back the other way he's been played really good on the side of the field and has been really consistent for us. We've just got to take all that into consideration and see what we come up with.
"Obviously he (Slater) is a hard guy to replace. Having said that when someone misses out someone gets a chance so we will decide that over the next few days.
"We will probably wait until Saturday for us to decide."
Melbourne takes on the Raiders at GIO Stadium this Sunday at 2pm.