MINUTES WITH SMITHY
Give it up? Not really. I have never really sat down and thought I might hand this over. I prefer to be captain and that is what helps me perform each week. The club is doing a great job with our “Emerging Leaders”, guys like Tohu Harris, Tim Glasby and Dale Finucane who has just moved into the leadership group. As long as they continue to work hard and develop skills then one day they will have the opportunity to captain the club. Not at all. I can’t speak for Billy (Slater, below) or Cooper (Cronk) but for myself, I don’t really think about retirement at all — certainly not putting an end date on it. At this stage, I’ve got this season to play and next season to play with Storm. I’m excited about those two seasons. We have just come off a minor premiership and grand final. I’m not too worried about the future as yet. My main focus is playing well in the preseason and playing well this year. Joe Stimson. He has certainly been on my radar for the past 12 months as far as getting into the first grade side. I think that will happen this year. He really ticks all the boxes for what Craig Bellamy looks for in a firstgrader. He works extremely hard at the little things at training, never takes shortcuts so that’s something that Craig always looks for. Craig Bellamy and Alastair Clarkson are good friends. They are quite similar as coaches and I’m just hoping he (Bellamy) does not wield the axe on a couple of the older players like what happened at Hawthorn. They are a quality outfit and organisation. They’ve got wonderful players and leaders who raise the bar every year — they don’t settle for anything less so I don’t think it matters who they have on their list. Hopefully, they can lift the flag at the end of this year and so can Storm as well. MELBOURNE Storm is prepared to go into the NRL season without its superstar fullback Billy Slater.
Slater, 33, has trained strongly in recent weeks but Storm will not rush him back into the side.
Storm captain Cameron Smith said Slater would decide on his comeback.
“There is no deadline and there is no particular date set that he will be back,” Smith said.
“No one is going to put any pressure on Bill to play any of the pre-season games or certainly Round 1,” Smith said.
The premiership fullback has played eight games in the past two seasons due to shoulder injuries.
Slater rushed back last year for the season opener, only to damage his surgically repaired left shoulder. He did not play again. “The most important thing for Bill is that he is confident within himself to get back on the field again,” Smith said.
“All signs are looking very positive for him. He’s training extremely well. He’s not sitting out of any of our sessions (and) he is being included in a bit of our contact work as well.”
Smith was confident Storm would again see the best of Slater despite his long lay-off.
“He’s not going to go out there and think about the shoulder at all,” Smith, 33, said.
“He goes out there and thinks about the role that he has to play and he does it (at) a million miles an hour.
“The players and particularly the fans have been robbed of watching Billy Slater streak down the field like he used to do.
“But I think the most important thing for our club, our fans, is obviously to be patient because when he does feel the right time to come back, I think you’ll see him playing his best football again.” STORM yesterday opened its NRL Auckland Nines campaign with an 18-4 loss to Brisbane Broncos.
Flyer Josh Addo-Carr impressed on debut with an impressive try and trysaving tackle during the second half.
Storm bounced back later, beating Wests Tigers 14-6 at Eden Park. firstname.lastname@example.org