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Billy Slater a big fan of Manly's No.1

By Steve Jancetic and David Beniuk 01/10/2008 07:44:41 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater has admitted to studying tape of Manly No.1 Brett Stewart in a bid to imitate the man he will go up against in Sunday's NRL grand final.

In the ultimate case of imitation being the best form of flattery, Slater said he tried to replicate aspects of Stewart's game in a bid to improve his own performance.

"He's an outstanding player and in the media we sort of look at each other's game and not just Brett Stewart, but Karmichael Hunt and Matty Bowen," Stewart said.

"I think you'd be pretty naive if not to try and pick up on the opposite number's advantages and we certainly do that and I try and build my game and make my game a better game from what other No.1s do so I think he's a great player.

"It's awesome to watch the other No.1s around the game because we've got so many good ones."

Stewart and Slater are two of the best, and along with Brisbane custodian Hunt, are locked in a three-way battle for the Australian No.1 jumper for the upcoming World Cup.

Slater is the incumbent having made his Test debut in the Centenary Test against New Zealand in May this year, when he replaced Stewart after the Sea Eagles star debuted in the end of season Test against the Kiwis last October.

Meanwhile, Storm coach Craig Bellamy claimed Melbourne's loss to the Warriors in week one of the finals could prove to be a blessing in disguise.

The premiers have been forced to do it the hard way as they took aim at a third straight grand final berth, their campaign almost over in straight sets before a Greg Inglis try in the final minutes got them out of jail against Brisbane.

Their run into the decider has been in stark contrast to that of the Sea Eagles, who have romped to comfortable wins over St George Illawarra and the Warriors in their two finals matches.

"We were very disappointed about not getting the week off because we had to play another game," Bellamy said of the loss to the Warriors.

"We're in the grand final now and perhaps we're looking back and thinking our preparation's been pretty good.

"Our run's been really tough, we made it tough on ourselves those first couple of games.

"At the end of the day I think it's steeled us pretty good for a grand final, we know we can hang in there in tough times, we've proved that over the last couple weeks.

"That week off, it might be a good thing for the Eagles or a bad thing, I'm not quite sure."

Slater said the biggest advantage to come out of the Storm's final run had been the nine-day turnaround following the win over Cronulla last Friday.

"Obviously Manly are playing consistent football in their two finals and obviously having a lot of time to recover will be good for them," Slater said.

"With us, we've had two six-day turnarounds in the first two weeks of the finals and this nine-day turnaround will certainly help us with our legs and just our recovery side of things."

The Storm will fulfill their last public engagement with Thursday's grand final breakfast, after which they go into lockdown ahead of Sunday's clash.

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