League: Slater leaves 2008 loss in past

Billy Slater.
Billy Slater.

Billy Slater insists bad memories of Australia's shock defeat to New Zealand in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final will have no influence at the looming 2013 tournament.

The Kangaroos left for London yesterday and will head straight to Manchester for a 10-day camp ahead of the October 26 World Cup opener against England in Cardiff. That's where they start their bid to reclaim a trophy they've held nine times since the inaugural tournament in 1954.

Slater is one of five remaining Kangaroos from the 34-20 World Cup final boilover at Suncorp Stadium, along with Paul Gallen, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston.

Trailing 18-16 to the Kiwis with 20 minutes remaining, Slater threw a suicidal pass back over the heads of his teammates and gifted Benji Marshall a try that effectively sealed the victory for New Zealand.

The game is one of the few real low points in the glittering career of the Melbourne and Queensland fullback, but five years on the 30-year-old said he's not haunted by the incident.

"There's only a handful of us that were involved in that game and it was disappointing," Slater said. "World Cups don't come around too often and to let one slip was hard. But we haven't talked about five years ago while we've been in camp.

"For the players that are here who were involved then I'm sure that it's at the back of their minds.

"But it's not a motivation or a driving force for me. This is a World Cup and an opportunity to win, but I certainly won't be dwelling on the past."

Australia will again go into the tournament as red-hot favourites. Slater said the tag would serve as a reminder that the Kangaroos are the team everyone wants to beat.

"It can be a good thing and a bad thing," he said. "It can make you perform to yours and other people's expectations or it can get the better of you."

- AAP

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