What Slater's retirement means for Munster's future

Melissa Woods
What Slater's retirement means for Munster's future

Cameron Munster is no certainty to return to fullback to fill the shoes of retiring Melbourne Storm superstar Billy Slater.

With Slater announcing this week that 2018 will be his last NRL season, Munster is the obvious choice to replace the Storm veteran.

The 23-year-old made his debut at fullback and stayed there for almost two seasons while Slater was sidelined by consecutive shoulder reconstructions.

He shifted to five-eighth when Slater returned last year and has made the position his own, also filling the role with aplomb for Queensland during the Origin series.

While admitting that fullback is his favourite position, Munster says competition is so fierce there both at club and representative level his future may lay in the No.6 jersey.

He named Jahrome Hughes, Scott Drinkwater and exciting youngster Ryan Papenhuyzen as contenders at the Storm, while Kayln Ponga and Valentine Holmes are also vying to fill the position for Queensland.

"When Bill came back I was a bit worried about playing this position (five-eighth) and didn't know how well I would go in it," Munster said on Thursday.

Where will Cameron Munster play without Billy Slater in the side? Pic: Getty

"Now I have played Origin and got to the World Cup because of that position.

"We are not really worried about next year now but it will be something I will have to think about and worry about."

Munster said if he was to return to fullback permanently he would need to lose a "couple of kilos" and work on his endurance and leg strength.

The Maroons playmaker credited Slater for helping him succeed when he started his NRL career in 2014, with the injured veteran providing plenty of tips on fullback play.

"There was a lot of pressure when he first did his shoulder and I was nervous going into that role," Munster said.

"He worked on a few things with me in defence and in attack - I was surprised how much he wanted me to succeed in that position.

"He could have been kicking stones back then but he wasn't and I was so grateful for him helping us out."

Munster said news of Slater's retirement caught the team by surprise as they had hoped that given the form he was in he would play on for another season.

He said the Storm had even more motivation to win back-to-back NRL titles as they looked to send the Slater out a winner.

"It was a bit shocking, he's still playing some great footy and me personally I felt he could go another year but he knows his body better than anyone," Munster said.

"We're all behind him and hopefully we can send him out a champion."