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Storm re-sign Slater until 2012

12/03/2009 07:16:14 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne Storm believes the long-term signing of star fullback Billy Slater means they have now secured the core of their side at well below market value.

Slater signed until the end of 2012, Storm chief executive Brian Waldron saying he had followed a string of the club's other stars in agreeing to less money than they could have made elsewhere.

"It completes a fairly easy but a long process for the club in re-signing its core of players," Waldron said on Thursday.

"We had Cameron Smith our captain, another winner of the Golden Boot the previous year.

"Certainly our halfback Cooper Cronk started the process midway through last year, Greg Inglis re-signed, the likes of Dallas Johnson, Ryan Hoffman, Jeff Lima, Adam Blair and others.

"It really puts to bed, for this season anyway, the mix of players the we see as moving us into the future."

The club has also suffered some significant losses, most notably young gun Israel Folau to the Brisbane Broncos and Jeremy Smith to St George-Illawarra, who the Storm meet at Olympic Park on Friday night.

But Waldron said locking in Slater, the world's best player last year, was a thrill given the great interest in him from within Australia and overseas.

"I've said this each time we've presented with Greg or Billy or Cooper, that each of these boys can earn money far greater outside of Melbourne if they chose to go to a rival code or chose to go to a rival club," he said.

"It's a tribute to Craig (Bellamy) and the coaching staff and the culture we have here that they've all been prepared to sacrifice to remain here."

Slater said he and his family were happy in Melbourne, but the key attraction was wanting to achieve more with a team of close friends and great players.

"You've got to weigh up a lot more than money, you've got to weigh up being happy," he said.

"I'm at a successful club here with a lot of my mates so there's a lot of things to think about ... and I'm not playing for nothing, there's a lot worse people off than us."

But he and Bellamy admitted a lot of pre-season time had been spent preparing to cover the loss of the likes of Folau, Smith and Michael Crocker.

However, Slater said there were exciting youngsters, such as Willie Isa, Kevin Proctor and Joseph Tomane, ready to step up.

"Guys like Israel Folau three years ago weren't heard of and there's a guy like Willie Isa that hasn't been heard of much but he gets a chance now to do what Israel did," Slater said.

"Who knows what they can do if you just throw them a jersey and give them a chance."

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