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Slater injury opens door for axed Roos

Billy Slater's likely World Cup exit has set the stage for an intense Kangaroos selection battle between a group of players who may have thought their tournament was effectively over.
Slater injury opens door for axed Roos
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

LONDON, Nov 17 AAP - Billy Slater's likely World Cup exit has set the stage for an intense Kangaroos selection battle between a group of players who may have thought their tournament was effectively over.

Slater is almost certain to be ruled out for the rest of the tournament after results of scans on his injured left knee came back inconclusive on Sunday because of excessive swelling.

The Melbourne Storm star will remain with the squad in London and continue treatment in the coming days, however, he has already been ruled out of Saturday's semi-final against Fiji at Wembley.

Barring an unlikely speedy recovery, Slater will also miss the final - should Australia make it as expected - meaning Greg Inglis is set to shift from the centres to finish the tournament in his pet position.

And that switch will mean a reprieve for at least one of a trio of specialist centres left out of the squad that beat the United States 62-0 in the quarter-finals on Saturday.

Michael Jennings, Josh Morris and Brent Tate may have felt they would spend the last fortnight of the competition on the sidelines after coach Tim Sheens opted to pair Jarryd Hayne and Inglis in the centres against the Tomahawks.

But Slater's injury has suddenly thrown up another chance to stake a claim to be part of the side that will attempt to lift the trophy at Old Trafford on November 30.

Jennings and Morris are specialist left centres and seemingly have the inside running, but there is speculation Sheens could consider Tate for a bench role or give Jennings a chance on the wing at the expense of Darius Boyd.

Winger Brett Morris, who scored four tries against the US, was confident Australia could cover for the loss of Slater, whichever way Sheens opted to go.

"This side has a lot of depth," Morris said.

"I'm sure Tim will have another selection dilemma on his hands. Everyone wants to play in these games."

Australia will face Fiji for the second time at the tournament after the Bati defeated Samoa 20-4 in Warrington on Sunday.

The Kangaroos triumphed 34-2 when the side met in the group stage in dreadful conditions in St Helens.

New Zealand meet England in Saturday's opening semi-final, also being played at Wembley.

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