Slater's shoulder delays season start - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Slater's shoulder delays season start

Melissa Woods 14/02/2011 06:07:26 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne are preparing to start their 2011 NRL season without star fullback Billy Slater, whose recovery from shoulder surgery is slower than expected.

Slater will miss all of the Storm's pre-season matches and coach Craig Bellamy said on Monday it was looking increasingly likely he wouldn't play in their round one clash on March 12 against Manly.

The Test custodian had an arthroscope on the right shoulder he injured in round 21 and carried through the post-season Four Nations tournament.

He also needed ligaments reattached, which has led to limited training over summer.

Slater has resumed running but the joint hasn't progressed as quickly as expected.

"It's probably taking a little bit longer than we thought," said Bellamy.

"He's still a chance for round one but we certainly won't take any chances on him."

Gareth Widdop, who was Slater's understudy during 2010, would be the leading candidate to wear the No.1 jersey.

However English Test representative Widdop has made it clear he wants to play five-eighth this year, replacing Brett Finch who is now playing with Wigan.

Melbourne sent out a youthful line-up in their opening trial, when they faced Brisbane Easts for two 20-minute quarters and then fellow Queensland Cup side Ipswich Jets for another two quarters.

"There were a few negatives in that when we started getting tired in the second half they made some really simple errors but having said that, during that period I though we defended really well," he said.

"It was good to get that game out of the road so we know where we are and what we've got to work on."

Bellamy said he was particularly happy with the work done by his new props including Mitchell Johnson.

"Some of the new frontrowers have done really well since they've been here.

"Some of the other younger guys have been doing really well at training but until we actually see them consistently on the field I'll reserve judgement."

Most of the Storm's core group will return for their next trial match against Canberra at Bega on Saturday night, with the exception of Slater and fellow Test players Cooper Cronk and skipper Cam Smith.

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