Australian fullback Billy Slater has ruled himself out of Friday’s Anzac Test against New Zealand after failing to overcome a shoulder injury plaguing him for the past three weeks.
Slater sustained the injury in Melbourne Storm’s Round 5 clash against the Warriors and pulled the pin after Kangaroos training on Tuesday morning at Brisbane’s Langlands Park.
The Kangaroos veteran appeared on track to play in his 26th Test after completing warm-up drills and light contact work during the 90-minute session but made the call to pull out after consultation with coach Tim Sheens and conditioner Alex Corvo.
“I thought it was the best thing for myself and the side for me to sit out this one,” Slater said.
“I was very close – three-quarters through the session I was playing but at the end of the session I just made the decision that I didn’t want to go out there and let the side down.
“There’s still a bit of pain there and it’s better than it was last week. I’ve done a lot more physical stuff than I’ve done last week, but it’s just not quite up to playing a Test match.
“I’ll give it another week or so.”
Slater’s withdrawal causes a slight reshuffle in Australia’s backline with 18th-man Michael Jennings coming into the centres with Greg Inglis shifting to fullback.
Alex Johnston and Jennings will pair up on the left side of attack with debutants Josh Dugan and Will Chambers on the right.
It’s another bitter blow for Slater who missed the 2014 Four Nations due to off-season surgery on his opposite shoulder.
Kangaroos teammate Corey Parker expressed his disappointment at Slater’s withdrawal but insisted it wouldn’t hamper the team’s build-up.
“I imagine it would be quite frustrating for him. No one likes missing games and in particular a Test,” Parker said.
“It would’ve been a big call for Billy but being the team guy he is, he put the team first.”
“The plan was to make a decision [on Tuesday] and see how he went there but now that the decision has been made they can put the changes in place to fill that void.”