No man has had more of an influence on the career of Billy Slater than his coach of 14 years, Craig Bellamy.
While the news was unwelcome on Tuesday that Slater will be sidelined for 6-8 months, Bellamy was quick to temper suggestions that the setback would end the career of the greatest fullback of the modern era.
“I spoke to him last night and he seemed to be in a pretty good frame of mind,” Bellamy said.
“Obviously Bill is very frustrated and disappointed with having to have the surgery again but he’s had it now and he’s a pretty optimistic sort of fellow Billy.
“We are hearing that the operation went well so hopefully that is a really good sign. If the shoulder is good after the rehab I am pretty sure Billy will want to play on.
“We’re not thinking whether he is or isn’t going to be playing next year, that is a long way down the track and that will be decided as we go along.”
There has been little time to dwell on Slater’s absence and playing future with the challenge of facing the Warriors on Sunday now at the forefront of the coach’s mind.
“We’ve got a season to get on with and Billy’s got a rehab program ahead of him that is going to be pretty tough, especially in the situation and circumstance that it comes,” Bellamy said.
“We will get through our season, Billy will get through his rehab and we will see what happens from there.
“He only just had the operation yesterday so those sort of questions are a long way from being answered.”
Melbourne will take on the Warriors at 2pm (EDT) this Sunday at Mount Smart Stadium.