NO READY: Storm fullback Billy Slater isn't ready for a return to action.
NO READY: Storm fullback Billy Slater isn't ready for a return to action. DAVID CROSLING

Slater, Harris injuries cloud Storm start to season

RUGBY LEAGUE: Melbourne Storm has been dealt a double blow the week before round one with star fullback Billy Slater ruled out and representative back-rower Tohu Harris struck down with a stress fracture in his foot.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy confirmed the Harris injury at yesterday morning's season launch, while also declaring Slater (pictured) would not be ready for the first few weeks of the season.

Last year's beaten grand finalists will start the season against the Bulldogs next Friday with a fill-in five-eighth too as Bellamy's preferred option, Cameron Munster, will play fullback.

"He's got a stress fracture in his foot, which is going to be an eight- to 10-week injury, that's not great," Bellamy said of Kiwi international Harris.

"We thought we got through the trials unscathed, but he has had a sore foot for a little bit, which we thought was part of his ankle injury but it wasn't."

Already without Kevin Proctor in the back row after his off-season move to the Gold Coast the injuries throw another challenge at last year's minor premiers.

That challenge also includes a reshuffle in the halves with Bellamy declaring Slater, who missed all last year with a shoulder injury, was not ready to

play.

"I'm pretty sure he won't be playing the first couple of rounds," Bellamy said.

"Everything is going really well, to be quite honest. I'm not quite sure I could say we are on track, but I don't ever think we have had a track that was clear. It was all pretty blurry along the way.

"We are really happy with the way it is progressing."

Slater confirmed he had been doing full contact at training for some weeks but knows he has to step it up.

"It's been a long time since I have made contact on a footy field," he said.

"Getting into that has certainty not just built my confidence but built my strength in the shoulder."

Confirmation of Slater's absence Slater has at least ensured Bellamy knows he has to make a decision about who will start at five-eighth, but that decision hadn't been made.

HERALD SUN

News Corp Australia


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