Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater.

Ex-teammate King backs Slater to return

Former Melbourne Storm centre Matt King believes Billy Slater's latest injury won't be the end of his glittering rugby league career.

The Storm superstar was on Tuesday ruled out for six to eight months after reinjuring the same shoulder that restricted him to just seven club games in 2015. 

"I'm really, really upset for him. Knowing the type of person Billy is, I'm assuming that he'll be back next year," King told NRL.com at the launch of the Play NRL Round in Sydney. 

"I reckon he's way too determined and way too driven to just go 'well I'm going to let this shoulder injury determine how I finish my career'. I can't see Billy making that decision."

While Slater's latest setback has fuelled talks of an early retirement, King sees the enforced layoff as a positive, arguing it could in fact extend the fullback's career. 

"Obviously he'll have a fair bit of time now with his family. He's got some interests with his horses and stuff like that that he loves," the former Blues and Kangaroos representative said.

"Maybe this time away will prolong his career. We saw it with Dan Carter and Richie McCaw with the All Blacks. David Pocock at the moment is looking to have a breather in rugby. If it does mean we get two or three more seasons out of Billy then that'll be awesome."

The Storm would have loved to have had Slater available for their premiership quest, but King believes his former club is well equipped to handle the star fullback's absence.  

"He's massive, but in saying that they went within a game of the grand final last year, so it's not all doom and gloom for those guys," King said. 

"Craig Bellamy is a genius at getting the best out of his players, and Cameron Munster at the moment, everyone is talking about him. 

"Bellyache has signed for another two years. They've got Cam [Smith] and Cooper [Cronk]. The blokes on the fringes have really stepped up. Will Chambers and Tohu Harris, Kevin Proctor, the Bromwich boys [Jesse and Kenny]. They're in a good spot. They always will be."

NRL casualty ward