Bellamy knew Slater wouldn't be back
After State of Origin I, Storm coach Craig Bellamy knew he would not see his star fullback in a purple jersey again this year.
After weeks of speculation Melbourne confirmed on Thursday that Billy Slater will undergo surgery on his left shoulder, ruling him out of the remainder of the 2015 season.
Slater had already missed six games due to the injury that he sustained back in Round 5 against the Warriors.
While the club was initially hopeful surgery could be postponed until season's end, those hopes were all but dashed after Origin I.
" I think we were all aware two or three weeks ago that it (surgery) was going to be sooner rather than later… we all knew it was coming," Bellamy said.
"I think Billy was in a little bit of denial the first couple of weeks."
"He was trying to prepare to play and doing all his rehab but you could just tell the way he was training and the look on his face when you asked him about it, he was even more inconvenienced than what everybody else thought."
The master coach backed his troops in to cover the big hole that will be left by the Queensland and Australian No.1.
"We are going to have to. I'm not sure how many games we've played this year but Billy's probably only played half of them and we are up around the leaders," Bellamy said.
His fourth-placed side will host the top-of-the-table Broncos at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Cooper Cronk is also sidelined for another week with his knee injury while skipper Cameron Smith and in-form centre Will Chambers are racing the recovery clock on the back of Wednesday night's Origin showpiece at the MCG.
Cameron Munster is the obvious man to step in at fullback, having already played six games this season in Slater's absence.
The 20-year-old has put in several eye-catching performances this season yet Bellamy has also picked out fellow youngsters Kurt Mann and Ben Hampton as fullback options should the club choose to make adjustments later in the season.
Brisbane have their own team headaches with Origin veterans Corey Parker and Justin Hodges ruled out of Sunday's clash.
Sam Thaiday and Darius Boys are expected to play having remainder in Melbourne following the Maroons' Game Two defeat.
The Storm are fully aware of the danger the competition's top side presents with Bellamy pointing out the key areas where Wayne Bennett has looked to give his side an edge this season.
"I think a few interpretations of the rules that have been changed this year, they have taken advantage of that and are playing some great footy," Bellamy said.
"The quicker play-the-ball and releasing on the ground straight away, I think they've handled that better than any other team to be quite honest.
"That is certainly not a criticism, that is praise because I think they've worked it out quicker than anybody else and that is a big reason why they are playing well."
The Storm host the Broncos on Sunday at 4pm at AAMI Park with kids able to gain admission free of charge.