Billy Slater is a huge defensive loss for the Storm and Queensland according to Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy.
He may be renowned for his attacking brilliance but Melbourne fullback Billy Slater is already being missed just as much for what he can do in defence according to Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
Slater sat out the Storm’s 22-0 NRL loss to North Queensland on Saturday night with a shoulder injury picked up from the opening State of Origin match.
He’s considered touch and go for the second clash in Sydney on June 18.
Slater’s unavailability – for either Queensland or the Storm – is a major loss, but not entirely in the way most would expect.
“No one organises a defence like Billy Slater – and I mean no one,” said Bellamy, who was also without halfback Cooper Cronk (broken arm) from the brutal Origin opener.
“I’ve heard other people say it when he is with the Queensland side, with the Australian side.
“Not only are you missing him and that combination with Cooper, you’re missing that defensive organisation.”
Bellamy was upbeat about his side’s loss in Townsville after being forced to field a side ripped apart through injury and suspension.
As well as superstars Slater and Cronk, the club was also missing halves Cody Walker, Ben Hampton and Joel Romelo.
“That’s just the way it is, that’s the cards we’ve been dealt,” he said.
“We’ve just got to deal with it.”
One positive was the inclusion of skipper Cameron Smith, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Origin I but took his place in the Storm side.
He was named at halfback but played most of the game at hooker, although Bellamy hasn’t ruled out shifting him into the halves fully for the club’s next clash with the Sydney Roosters.
Cowboys coach Paul Green even reserved unprompted praise for Smith.
“It’s a great example for our young players in the game,” he said.
“The easiest thing for Smithy to do would be to pull out of (the) game given the guys that weren’t playing,” he said.
“He was a great example. Young players can take a lot from his effort.”