Slater not after World Cup redemption

Slater not after World Cup redemption

Kangaroos fullback Billy Slater was at the centre of the brain explosion that ultimately handed the New Zealand Kiwis their 2008 World Cup victory on Australian soil, but he insists he is not out for redemption.

It is a moment entrenched in World Cup history, with Slater, the best fullback in the world, throwing a pass he wished he could undo as soon as it left his hand. 

In the 61st minute of the 2008 World Cup decider at Suncorp Stadium, Slater fielded a Benji Marshall kick on his own goal line and proceeded to return the ball with a dart towards the right touchline. 

With New Zealand leading 18-16 at the time, Slater was after as many metres on his return as possible, dangerously flirting with the sideline before running out of room and throwing a pass back over his head to keep the ball in play. 

It went straight to Marshall who waltzed over the line for the easiest of tries, gifting the Kiwis the momentum to go on with it and win 34-20.

It is without a doubt the unhappiest memory of Slater's illustrious career, and one he claims to have erased after taking home the World Cup in 2013 on UK soil.

But there is still that feeling of unfinished business for Slater and his Australian teammates who want to be the first Aussie side to win a home World Cup since 1977. 

"I want to win the World Cup because it's the World Cup. It's not redemption for me. I think winning in 2013 put to bed a few bad memories from 2008," Slater said.  

"2008 was the first year I played for Australia and to lose a big game, any big game, takes a little bit to get over. I've lost grand finals before as well, they aren't much fun either.

"Winning in 2013 was one of the most memorable moments of my playing career and we've got another opportunity to do that here in Australia. 

"It's been 40 years since an Australian team has won the World Cup in Australia so hopefully we can make it this year as well."

Saturday night's final against England may be the last time fans get to see Slater in a Kangaroos jersey, with the 34-year-old weighing up representative retirement.

No matter the result on Saturday, Slater has plenty of time to think about his decision, with Australia's only Test match in 2018 coming after the completion of the NRL season.

But the lure of playing for his country is hard to turn down, with Slater appreciating the jersey even more after spending almost three years away from the international arena due to injury.

"I'm not too sure [when I'll retire from Australian duties]. This may be my last game," he said.  

"You never take these sort of jerseys for granted. I know that firsthand after missing out over the last three years through injury.

"It's been a good run in the green and gold so if this is my last game then I'm okay with that.

"If I retire at the end of next year I'll have to make a decision if I play that last Test match or whether I hang it up at the end of the season. I don't know yet."