Slater 'excited' ahead of long-awaited return
Melbourne Storm fans finally got the news they've been anxiously waiting to hear: Billy Slater is back.
The Storm officially named Slater in Tuesday's team list ahead of a blockbuster against the Brisbane Broncos, and all eyes will be on the superstar in his first game back in 12 months.
"I understand there's a lot of expectation, a lot of hype no matter when I returned," Slater told Storm TV. "My expectations aren't as high as everyone else's but the competitiveness in myself will take over when I get out there."
It's a remarkable comeback for Slater, and understandably he's anxious after only playing eight games in the past two years due to troublesome shoulder injuries.
Slater played just seven games in 2015 and underwent shoulder surgery again after the opening round of 2016.
"I’m excited, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was nervous a little bit," Slater said. "I feel like it’s my debut all over again, I'm really excited about putting the jersey on and playing some footy. I haven’t played for a long period of time and looking forward to getting back out there."
It's been a successful offseason for Slater in his long-awaited return which at times looked doubtful. But after a preseason training the house down, Slater says he's happy with his preparation and has been in full contact sessions for the past four weeks.
Sitting on 278 NRL games for Melbourne, Slater's comeback comes at the right time with the Storm's first home match against familiar rivals the Broncos.
The Storm have opened their season in impressive fashion to remain unbeaten after earning gritty wins over the Canterbury Bulldogs and Warriors on the road in difficult wet-weather conditions.
"The Broncos is going to be our biggest test so far this season," Slater said.
"My expectation is just to get out there, get through the game and enjoy myself. That's what I've missed most about the last two seasons and I just want to get out there and have a bit of fun."
For Slater, there's plenty of individual motivation to reclaim his place as one of the game's superstars but he may also be the final piece for the Storm to avenge last year's grand final loss.