Slater will be fit for Origin return, says Smith
Melbourne captain Cameron Smith is almost certain Billy Slater will be fit for next Sunday's second State of Origin match despite the veteran sitting out their win over Newcastle with a hamstring injury.
The injury ruled Slater out of the opening game, as well as the following clash with the Broncos but Smith said he was surprised the fullback did not suit up against the Knights.
"He's never had a hamstring injury before, so he's a bit up in the air on how hard he can push it," Smith said.
"Looking at him over this week's preparation, he's been out on the field doing running and training – he looked like he could have played today.
"We took the safe option for Billy and our club because if he was to do some damage, it would have put him out for a long period of time.
"So I think he'll definitely be there for game two."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy was relieved to bank the two competition points in Newcastle on top of sorting out his future after re-signing on a three-year deal.
Speaking after the 28-10 win over the Knights, he said he turned down a lucrative pay day which he could have earned at the Broncos, due to the long-term relationship he has forged with the Storm players.
"It dragged on a touch more than everyone wanted but it was important to me that I made the right decision," Bellamy said.
"I think in the end, and I don't know if attachment is the right word, but certainly the relationship that I have got with the playing group, and the whole club, I really like that feeling.
"Especially with the older players who we've been together for 15 years – like Billy (Slater), Cameron (Smith) and Ryan Hoffman.
"I think I am quite a loyal person and the Melbourne Storm really gave me the opportunity to coach in the NRL, so I will always be grateful for that."
Smith, who could not speak highly enough of his coach, said it would have felt strange to see him anywhere else.
"It's a great result for the Melbourne Storm and rugby league in Victoria. Craig has done so many wonderful things over 16 years," Smith said.
"We've never had to worry about any coaching issue, or any speculation about his position as a coach – or any speculation about him being sacked.
"But I did sort of mention to Craig over the past four weeks: the decision is up to you but if you do go, you won't be beating the Storm."
The Storm led from the front against the Knights on a tough afternoon due to the strong wind.
While handling let Melbourne down at times, it was the hosts who really struggled, making 17 handling errors for the match, meaning they struggled to mount any real pressure.
"It was a difficult day, especially to attack," Bellamy said.
"It was very windy out there, especially when you see with some of the kicks and what happened to the ball.
"So it would have been a tough day handling, but one of the things that worked in our favour is that we completed a lot better than the Knights.
"The Knights have been completing really well for most of the year – they made a lot of mistakes today and we didn't make that many, so it helped us build that pressure."
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