Slater satisfied with NRL return

Billy Slater says he’s never doubted his ability to return to the top of the NRL tree despite his long absence from the game with a serious shoulder injury.

The Test custodian admitted he felt like an NRL debutant before his first game in nine months following shoulder surgery, helping the Storm to an 18-16 win over the Dragons at AAMI Park on Monday night.

Slater had a hand in two tries to winger Marika Koroibete and put his body on the line in defence but he also spilt a few balls that he’d normally take with his eyes closed.

“I was a bit nervous after not playing for so long so it was good to get through the game and have everything go well,” 32-year-old Slater said.

“At this level there’s nowhere to hide out there so I knew I would be tested out. It was good to get the game under my belt.”

But Slater said he didn’t question his form.

“I’ve never doubted myself and I’m always confident and comfortable with my ability and where I am as football player,” Slater said.

“I was really happy with the pre-season that I’ve had and I’ve had knee injuries in the past and it’s probably better to have an upper body injury than that because you can get through all of your running and skill work and I’ve done that.”

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy told his No.1 pre-match not to try to do too much and expected him to be better for the hit-out.

“I didn’t want him to go in with the mentality that he had to make up for last year, for the games he missed, I wanted him to go out and play his natural game without trying to push things too much,” Bellamy said.

“I thought he did a real good job and you would only think he’s going to get better and better as he gets his timing back and gets back in the groove again.”

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