Storm delay Slater return, Harris facing lay-off


Billy Slater's NRL return has been put on hold after Craig Bellamy revealed that the Melbourne Storm full-back is not expected to be fit for the first couple of rounds of the season and Tohu Harris has been ruled out for up to 10 weeks.

Slater played just eight games in the last two seasons and the inspirational 33-year-old will not feature in the Storm's first game of the new campaign against Canterbury Bulldogs next Friday.

The Australia international underwent shoulder surgery last March and Bellamy said the Storm will not rush his comeback after such a lengthy absence.

"I'm pretty sure he won't be playing the first couple of rounds," the Storm coach said. 

"We've waited a long time and we're not going to take any risks on him physically or mentally. We definitely think we can see a light at the end of the tunnel now. It should be sooner rather than later he's going to play.

"Everything's going along really well to be quite honest. I'm not quite sure whether to say we're on track because we've never really had a track that was clear. It was all pretty blurry along the way."

The Storm suffered a blow a week before their season gets under way, with New Zealand back-rower Harris facing a spell on the sidelines with a stress fracture of his foot.

"It's not great," Bellamy said. "We thought we had got through the trials unscathed actually. 

"Tohu's had a sore foot for a bit and we thought it was part of an ankle injury but it wasn't. He's in a boot for a little bit and will take a while to get back."