Taking part in a Craig Bellamy pre-season is never easy, but for Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater, it beats sitting on the sidelines.
Slater has been limited to just eight appearances in the past two years due to a shoulder injury and is relishing the opportunity to be back on the training paddock doing what he does best.
The 33-year-old has been a standout at Storm training, with Dale Finucane - as well as Storm assistant Adam O'Brien - telling NRL.com that the former Maroons and Kangaroos fullback has been leading from the front.
Slater – the most prolific try-scorer still in the game – is a key cog in the Storm's 'big three' and will be a crucial inclusion next year as they try to go one better after losing this season's grand final to the Sharks.
"It's good to be back," Slater told Storm TV.
"Pre-season is never easy, but after what I've endured over the last two years, just getting back in training and getting some running into my legs has been good.
"I haven’t trained with the boys for about eight months. To get back out on the park and throw the footy around is a lot better than just running so I’ve enjoyed that."
With experienced heads Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich, Cooper Cronk and Tohu Harris granted an extended break to recover from the Four Nations, Slater praised the Storm's younger players for their performances throughout the pre-season.
"I've been really pleased with the effort from the guys," he said.
"We've got a bit of a turnover, and we're still waiting for a handful of guys to come back from Four Nations duties. We're still quite an inexperienced squad at the moment, but once we get everyone back on deck, the boys will pick it up pretty well.
"I think you want to get a couple of things out of the training pre-Christmas. First of all you want to pick up all the terminology, all the plays and all our calls, and secondly, get a really good fitness base.
"What I’ve enjoyed pre-Christmas is getting that fitness base and obviously working towards playing next year."
Video first appeared at MelbourneStorm.com.au