THE rumour mill was spinning all week about the possibility of Billy Slater cutting his season short due to injury, and we can now confirm that Storm and Maroons fullback will require shoulder surgery.
Slater has been ruled out of the remainder of the NRL season for the Melbourne Storm and the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 8.
The decision was made by Slater following the Maroons loss to the New South Wales Blues after being assessed by medical staff.
It comes as no surprise to Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi, who realised Slater would need surgery following his shoulder injury against the Warriors in Round 5.
“After Billy [Slater] sustained the injury initially in Round 5 we knew he would require surgery at some stage,” said Ponissi.
“At the time we made the decision with Billy to take the conservative approach and rehab and strengthen the joint to get to the end of the season, but knowing potentially at some stage we wouldn’t be able to continue with this approach.”
The news has already affected the odds for State of Origin at Sportsbet.com.au.
Queensland are currently priced at $1.65 after opening as short as $1.57, and that price is expected to lengthen as the game draws closer.
Slater has been the custodian for the Maroons for a number of years, but this injury puts massive pressure on both the Maroons and the Storm, which have also lost Cooper Cronk to injury.
The Storm are now $11 at Sportsbet.com.au to win the 2015 NRL Premiership, despite sitting in fourth place on the ladder.
The $1.95 to finish in the Top 4 wouldn’t be the most popular option for punters and money will likely come for the Storm to miss the Top 8 at $6.50 with Sportsbet.com.au.
The loss of Slater will force some reshuffling at the back, but Slater says he’s not able to play to his full potential.
“After each game I play, the battle to get up for the next week is becoming harder and the shoulder takes longer to settle down, not allowing me to play to my full potential,” Slater said.
“Each week I’ve been focused on getting up for the next game and was able to do that for Origin on Wednesday night at the MCG, however the best decision is to undergo surgery now.
“I’m extremely disappointed not to be available to play for Queensland in Game 3 and especially for the rest of the season with Melbourne Storm,” Slater added.
Slater’s absence from the eagerly awaited Broncos vs. Storm clash this Sunday at AAMI Park has caused a big shift in the market.
The Broncos opened as $1.70 favourites and have moved into $1.55 on the back of the injury news. Money has piled in for the Brisbane side which welcome back Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Josh McGuire.
Slater was a $51 chance to win the Dally M Medal with teammate Cameron Smith at $26. Expect Smith’s odds to shorten up with the exclusion of Slater, but he will need to find that link play that Slater provided.
The Melbourne Storm will still field a solid team against the Broncos this Sunday. Will Chambers returns to the backline and Cameron Smith slips back into his hooking role.
They don’t match up well against the Broncos however, whose team looks near unbeatable on paper, but the NRL isn’t scripted and the Storm might find something extra at home.
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