Slipper set to be world-class: McKenzie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Slipper set to be world-class: McKenzie

By Jim Morton 11/08/2011 05:22:50 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie, one the Wallabies best props, believes James Slipper has the potential to also become one of the greats after signing an upgraded contract extension.

Slipper is just 22 and played only two seasons of senior rugby but McKenzie has seen enough from the 114kg front-rower to exclaim he'll be a world-class tight-head.

That potential on Thursday saw the Reds and Australian Rugby Union lock him away until the end of 2013 after renegotiating a new two-year deal 12 months early in line with his remarkable rise.

Despite being sidelined for the past two months with ankle syndesmosis injury, Slipper is seen as a key member of Australia's forward pack in their World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

Just 15 months ago he was lining up for his Super Rugby starting debut for the Reds but went on to play 14 Tests in his rookie season.

Slipper resumed contact work this week to declare he'll return to action in a fortnight.

McKenzie, who played 51 Tests at tight-head and anchored the scrum of the victorious 1991 World Cup side, was thrilled to extend his deal.

Considering Slipper still prefers packing in at loose-head, the Reds mentor regards him among the best young props he's seen.

"He's been developing his tight-head skills for 14 months and there's still plenty of opportunity to improve," McKenzie told AAP.

"He's got a good mindset for it, he loves a challenge and he's tough physically and tough mentally which are great attributes for playing in the front-row.

"There isn't anything I've seen that makes me doubt his potential to become a world-class prop."

Slipper has set down the Australian Barbarians clash with Canada on the Gold Coast on August 26 as his likely comeback date in a match which is also set to see the return of injured Wallabies Tatafu Polota-Nau (knee), Wycliff Palu (shoulder) and Drew Mitchell (ankle).

Fellow Reds prop Ben Daley will ramp up his comeback from a shoulder problem this Saturday when he starts for the Gold Coast in Queensland premier rugby.

Next month's World Cup looms as a chance for Slipper to brush aside the devastation of missing Queensland's Super Rugby triumph after injuring his ankle in the last round in Hamilton.

"So far, so good, it's pulled up well pretty well after each session," he said of his recovery. "I reckon I could play this week - but I thought I could play the grand final and that was a month ago.

"The doc was telling me that just to keep me happy but looking back now there was no chance."

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