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No need for scans as Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater avoids new shoulder setback
By Roy Ward
17 February 2018 — 3:13pm
Melbourne Storm are confident Billy Slater has avoided injury to his shoulder following their World Club Challenge win over Leeds Rhinos on Friday night.
Slater was withdrawn from the game just before half-time after jarring his shoulder as he attempted to escape the in-goal.
The 34-year-old full-back missed almost two years due to shoulder problems before a barnstorming comeback last season which saw him win major titles with the Storm, Queensland and Australia.
Storm football director Frank Ponissi said Slater was sat down as a precaution and did not need further scans or tests.
“The medical staff are comfortable with Billy’s mobility and his strength,” he said.
“It was very much a precautionary thing [to sit him down].”
Friday night’s game was an earlier start than previous years for the Storm but the reigning premiers showed some positive signs in their 38-4 win with prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona named man of the match.
The Storm now hold the NRL premiership, regular season title and the World Club Challenge for the first time.
The Storm’s opening round game against Canterbury Bulldogs in Perth is not until March 10 so Slater will be closely managed by the club and may not be risked in this Friday’s testimonial for Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston in Brisbane.
Slater also greeted fans post-game and a Twitter post from Rhinos supporter Neil Robinson showed pictures of Slater giving his winner's medal to his son.
Cameron Munster showed Storm fans he still relishes time in the full-back role after taking over from Slater while young half-back Brodie Croft and emerging utility Brandon Smith impressed in the playmaking roles after Munster was moved from five-eighth.
Croft scored a try and set up five others in the win while Smith showed he still has a nose for gaining metres and attacking the try line.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Croft showed he was ready to take charge of the halfback role and make it his own following Cooper Cronk’s long tenure in the role.
“I thought he was really good and we expected that of him to be quite honest,” Bellamy said.
“He is a talented young fella, we don’t expect him to be a Cooper Cronk, we just expect him to do a real good job 'Brodie Croft' style.
Croft steps out of Cronk's shadow to steer Storm to World Club title
“He had a really good start to the game defensively and he built his game on that. It’s a really promising start as our starting half-back.
“Tremendous job and he got a lot of help from his teammates.”
Bellamy also praised Smith and Slater for their prolonged success.
"I know how good they are and how highly this club holds these two players," Bellamy said.
"To do what they did tonight and hold all those records is quite unbelievable, especially they are grandpas now as far as NRL goes."
A Storm development side put in a brave display against the New Zealand Warriors in Rotorua on Saturday in a 20-14 loss.
The Storm side featured only two players with first grade experience including former North Queensland forward Patrick Kaufusi who played his first game for the club.
Matt Sopa-Lawler scored the first try for the Storm but the Warriors regain the lead and were never headed again although rising star Harry Grant scored a solo try and speedy back Ryan Papenhuyzen powered down the left wing for a long-distance try three minutes from time.
Scott Drinkwater captained the Storm while Billy Walters, son of Queensland coach Kevin Walters, and teenager Cooper Johns, son of Newcastle great Matthew Johns, both showed some positive signs in attack.