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Nightclub brawl a wake-up call: Slater

Billy Slater

Billy Slater has described his involvement in an early-morning nightclub fight in Manchester as a wake-up call for Kangaroos players but defended their right to celebrate victories.
Nightclub brawl a wake-up call: Slater
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Nov 11 AAP - Billy Slater has described his involvement in an early-morning nightclub fight in Manchester as a wake-up call for Kangaroos players but defended their right to celebrate victories.

A shaken but unharmed Slater on Monday fronted the media just hours after he was attacked while out celebrating the weekend's 50-0 win over Ireland with his Australian teammates.

The Melbourne Storm star, 30, was detained by police for several hours on Monday morning before being released without charge after they found he was acting in self-defence when exchanging punches with a 40-year-old Manchester man at about 2.40am.

An emotional Slater spoke about pain the incident caused his family back home and said he was disappointed it took focus away from Australia's unbeaten start to the Rugby League World Cup.

Slater, sporting no visible injuries, refused to go into detail about what happened before or during the fight, saying the police version of events was accurate.

He said while it was not common for players to be provoked by members of the public, the incident was a reminder to players about what can happen.

"I think we've got to be aware of the situations that we find ourselves in," Slater said.

"I suppose it's probably a bit of a wake-up call for everyone when we do go out.

"But I hope what happened last night doesn't jeopardise anyone else going out and having a good time."

It was the second late-night incident of the campaign for the Kangaroos, with forward Josh Papalii robbed on the team's first night in Manchester last month.

Australia coach Tim Sheens has not set his players a curfew, and is unlikely to consider dropping Slater for Saturday's quarter-final against the United States, though the fact the incident happened so late would be of concern.

Slater said he could understand there would be some questioning why players were out drinking during the campaign.

"But we're over here for eight weeks and it's important to enjoy and celebrate your wins," Slater said.

"But obviously you'd like to stay away from these situations."

Slater's wife Nicole made an emotional post on Instagram on Monday, slamming her husband's attacker and saying the Kangaroos star could have been killed in the incident.

"Some man thought it was OK to punch my husband in the face because he thought he pushed in line," she wrote.

"If he had king hit him and killed him I would have to raise my two kids alone.

"What has this world come to?"

Slater said his main priority since the incident was making sure his family knew he was OK and his wife was the first person he spoke to.

"It's pretty tough on them, being on the other side of the world and hearing stuff like this," he said.

Slater said he could understand some people might think Australia's campaign was in turmoil.

"That's why I'm mostly disappointed that the focus is on this because we have been preparing for each game really diligently," Slater said.

Greater Manchester Police said Slater was cleared after they viewed CCTV footage which showed he responded to an initial hit by the other man following a "verbal altercation" outside the popular Mojo nightclub.

It's understood the man turned on Slater when the NRL star was going back inside to retrieve his jacket.

Slater confirmed he would not press charges against the local man, who accepted a fixed penalty notice for drunken disorderly behaviour and was released on Monday afternoon.

Slater, a two-time international player of the year, spent around five hours in custody overnight before being released into the care of team management.

He did not join his teammates for training on Monday.

The fullback would not say whether he was hit, or whether he was with other players at the time.


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