Slater: ‘You have to think about retirement’

After so long on the sidelines, Slater isn’t ready to walk away. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
After so long on the sidelines, Slater isn’t ready to walk away. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

CHAMPION fullback Billy Slater has given Queensland a huge boost by declaring he will extend his Origin career next season - and hasn't ruled out playing in the NRL in 2019.

As he prepares for Australia's World Cup quarter-final against Samoa tonight in Darwin, Slater revealed he will suit up for another Origin campaign in his mission to join Queensland's elite 30-game club.

Slater yesterday received the backing of Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, who believes the Storm ace can play beyond his 36th birthday by surviving two more seasons in the NRL.

When Slater last month announced he was playing on for another 12 months at Melbourne, it triggered speculation he would walk away from representative football to dedicate himself to the Storm.

Slater's former Origin teammate, legendary prop Shane Webcke, gave up his Queensland and Australia jumpers in 2005 to focus on the Broncos, but the Storm custodian is committed to the Maroons.

"I am 100 per cent committed to Queensland and Australia next year," said Slater, a veteran of 29 Origin matches.

"It (retiring from representative football) is something that you definitely have to think about.

"For me, when I made the decision to play on for Melbourne, I also considered representative football in that.

"Sitting back watching State of Origin is not fun, I've been through that the last few years with my shoulder injuries and it's made me more determined.

"As long as I'm playing, I'll be putting my hand up for Queensland and Australia.

"It's something I really enjoy doing. If next year is my last year, I want to go out by playing Origin and Test football."

In another revelation that will please Storm coach Craig Bellamy, Slater admits there is no guarantee he will retire next season.

At 34, Slater accepts he is a year-to-year proposition, but former NSW Origin fullback rival Anthony Minichiello is evidence the code's special talents can defy Father Time.

Minichiello had planned for the 2013 campaign to be his swan song, but after winning a premiership with the Roosters, he soldiered on for another 12 months, scoring 17 tries from 27 games in 2014.

"I wouldn't say next year will definitely be it," Slater said.

"It will most likely be my last year but after the last couple of years, nothing is definite. It's possible I could play on. I'm approaching next season like it's my last, but you never know.

"I would regret retiring while I still have something to offer. I still feel I can contribute to any team I'm a part of."

Meninga has no doubt Slater has the fitness and hunger to wear Storm colours in 2019.

"You are a long time retired and he is playing at a level that's amazing," Meninga said. "He is up there with the greatest fullbacks ... he can play for another couple of years."

Topics:  billy slater kanagroos maroons melbourne storm origin

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