Player management key at Storm: Slater - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Player management key at Storm: Slater

By Melissa Woods 29/01/2010 05:23:45 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater says the Storm are preparing for a torrid start to the NRL season, which comes on top of another gruelling trip to England for the World Club Challenge.

One of four Storm players named for the All-Stars match on the Gold Coast next month, Slater and co will then make the long haul to England for two matches including the World Club Challenge against Leeds on Feb 28, while four of Melbourne's opening five NRL fixtures are on the road.

Slater and six of his teammates only returned to training in mid-January after a month-long Four Nations campaign in the UK, which immediately followed their NRL grand final triumph over Parramatta.

The Test custodian said he felt fresh, but recognised a difficult time lay ahead as he and the Storm staff managed the heavy work-load.

"It was a long season last year but the year before that was a long one as well," Slater said.

"I think clubs are getting a lot more professional. They have to manage their player that have the big workload ... they need to look after them during the year.

"You can't afford to have guys who play a lot of rep football stale at the end of the year, you need them fresh and firing."

The Storm will take on Leeds, who are lining up for their third successive World Club Challenge, without injured halfback Cooper Cronk (groin) and prop Brett White (shoulder).

They are looking for revenge after their 11-4 loss in 2008, while the Rhinos will also be looking to rebound from their 28-20 loss in 2009.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said after the 2008 match it disrupted his side's early NRL season, losing two of their opening three games. However Slater said winning was still the goal.

"We certainly want to go over there and win the football game and come back as World Club champions," he said.

"We've got really strong squad and hopefully we can go over there and get one back on them and get the trophy this time.

"We'd rather be in this position than not be going over there."

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