Melbourne Storm is wary of putting too much pressure on Billy Slater after his shoulder surgery.
Melbourne Storm is wary of putting too much pressure on Billy Slater after his shoulder surgery. TRACEY NEARMY

Bellamy to take time with Billy Slater

MELBOURNE Storm coach Craig Bellamy is wary of rushing Billy Slater back into full contact training, keen to protect the veteran fullback until early in the new year.

But Bellamy expects Slater to have his surgically repaired shoulder truly tested after the Christmas break.

Slater looked sharp on Friday training at Gosch's Paddock, using his trademark speed and creativity to break lines in match simulation.

"He's been great with his running, he's doing most of our skills now and the conditioning running he's been doing has been really good,” Bellamy said."It's great to have him back, obviously to have his experience working with this (young) group.

"He hasn't done any contact work yet and we're trying to leave that as long as possible, but at some stage we're going to have to start doing that, early in the new year and we'll just see how it goes from there.”

Slater has endured two years of injury hell overcoming separate bouts of shoulder surgery.

He played just one game last year before sitting out the remainder of the season.

Bellamy said it would be up to Slater and the club's medical team to decide when to unleash the Clive Churchill Medallist.

"I think everyone is probably a little bit wary and everyone's got their fingers crossed that it's going to be OK because, not only will he be very handy to have back in the team, but we've just seen how hard he's worked pre-season and we'd love to see him come back and play,” Bellamy said.

"It's been a long road and been really tough what happened to him ... we're just taking it step by step as the medical staff, what they think is the best way to go, and the right way to go, we've stuck really tight with that but at some stage we're going to have to test it out.”Bellamy said a fully-fit Slater would slot straight back into the No. 1 jersey despite Cameron Munster's breakout season at fullback.

"We'll find another role for Cameron ... we think that (five-eight) would be a good position for Cameron, he's shown a lot in the pre-season playing there.”

Storm stars Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris will return to training in mid-January following their representative duties at the end of the season.



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