Storm's Billy Slater in action at pre-season training
Storm's Billy Slater in action at pre-season training

Slater could miss season opener

BILLY Slater is racing the clock to be fit for the NRL premiership opener, with Storm coach Craig Bellamy insisting he will take no risks with his champion fullback.

In a huge relief for the premiers, scans have cleared Slater of any major damage to his reconstructed shoulder after he suffered a knock in last Friday week's World Club Challenge clash against Leeds.

The Storm had a handy contingency plan in classy custodian Jahrome Hughes, only for the highly-rated 23-year-old to suffer a dislocated shoulder against the Cowboys on Friday night.

The potential absence of Hughes could tempt the Storm to expedite Slater's return but Bellamy pledged to take a cautious approach with the Maroons ace.

Slater came off early in Melbourne’s win over Leeds.
Slater came off early in Melbourne’s win over Leeds.

The Storm coach remains hopeful Slater will be cleared for their round one clash against Canterbury on Saturday week.

"We think Billy is a good chance of playing round one," Bellamy said.

"He had a scan (last) week and saw the specialist who did the second operation (on Slater's shoulder).

"The specialist is reasonably happy with where Billy is at.

"Whether he plays round one - we think he will - but we won't be taking any chances there.

"There wasn't any more damage done to the shoulder, it was just jarred up, so Billy has some soreness in there and it may take a little while to settle down."

The testimonial clash at Suncorp threw up several injury headaches for the Storm and Cowboys.

Slater's fullback deputy Hughes will have scans on Monday, while Cowboys duo Kane Linnett (pectoral) and Lachlan Coote (hamstring) also suffered setbacks in the greasy conditions.

Bellamy is hoping the luckless Hughes will not face an extended time on the sidelines.

"He has dislocated his shoulder," he said. "We're not sure how long he will be out or how much damage he has done.

The Storm flyer could miss the season opener.
The Storm flyer could miss the season opener.

"The docs got it back in pretty quickly which is a good sign.

"Until we have the scans we don't know how much damage he's done. He has had a real bad run injury-wise. He is a talented kid but he just can't seem to get a good run with football."

The Cowboys travelled to the Sunshine Coast today for a four-day team camp and coach Paul Green is confident fullback Coote will be fit for round one.

"Cootey is not too bad, (his hamstring) tightened up a bit with the heavy track," he said. "He just came back into full training (from injury) but he hasn't done it again, it's more precautionary than anything.

"Kane has a pec issue, so we will see how bad or good it is."



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