Greg Inglis won’t mind waiting longer to assume the Kangaroos and Queensland No.1 jerseys based on Billy Slater’s performance in the World Cup final.
Greg Inglis won’t mind biding his time to take over the No.1 jersey for Australia and Queensland if Billy Slater continues his form from the World Cup final.
While many consider South Sydney star Inglis the premier fullback in the game, Slater vindicated the decision to rush him back into the Kangaroos line-up for a 34-2 win over the Kiwis at Old Trafford.
Slater was one of Australia’s best players, scoring twice despite being unsure if he was ready to return from a knee injury suffered two weeks ago.
The Melbourne Storm star’s return kept Inglis in the centres but, at 26 and four years Slater’s junior, it is only a matter of time before the Rabbitohs fullback becomes first-choice fullback for his state and country.
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens jokingly suggested Inglis had tried to keep Slater out of the final by roughing him up in training during the week.
“I think Timmy was just putting it out there – it was nothing like that,” Inglis said of Sheens’ suggestions he was gunning for the fullback spot.
“There was just a bit of scrimmage play and nothing too hard at all.
“I wanted him to play and I definitely don’t mind (playing in the centres) when he’s playing like that.
“Billy was one of our best, no doubt about it, and the way he recovered and the way he handled himself, it’s a credit to how much of a professional he is.”
Sheens paid tribute to the longevity of Slater, who now has 24 appearances for his country.
“A lot of contenders have challenged him,” Sheens said.
“A couple of them are playing in the centres for us at the moment with Jarryd Hayne at one stage and GI, but Bill is still the premium number one in the game.”
The Kangaroos were on Sunday still basking in the glory of capturing a 10th World Cup title before most depart London for Australia on Monday.
While it has been an arduous year for representative players, Australian skipper Cameron Smith dismissed fears of burnout ahead of the next NRL season.
Clubs will give their Kangaroos stars several weeks off before they have to return for pre-season training.
“I’ve got six weeks off now before I go back to training,” Smith said.
“Sure, we might be a little bit underdone come the start of the season but I’ve felt great all year and that’s why I’ve played every game and asked Tim if I could be part of every game here.
“This year’s been long but it’s been for a great cause.
“We’re representing our country and we’ve just come away as world champions so I wouldn’t have it any other way.”