Slater: I feel like it's my debut all over again
Billy Slater cannot wait to make his long-awaited return for Melbourne Storm this week, after more than a year on the sidelines.
Star full-back Slater has not played since round one of the 2016 season, with a second operation on his troublesome shoulder resulting in a lengthy lay-off.
The Queensland representative and Australia international is set to feature against Brisbane Broncos on Thursday, however, and told Storm TV: "I'm excited. I feel like it's my debut all over again.
"I haven't played for a long period of time and I'm looking forward to getting out there.
"When we decided that I probably wasn't going to be ready for the start of the season, we earmarked round three. I feel I've done all my preparation, I started pre-season in November and things have gone really well.
"I've got a fair bit of work under my belt. I've been doing contact for probably about four weeks now, so I'm really comfortable with where things are at and pretty happy with my preparation."
One of the biggest names in the NRL, Slater can expect to be the centre of attention at AAMI Park.
"I understand there's a lot of expectation, a lot of hype, no matter when I return," the 33-year-old said.
"Obviously returning at home, against the Broncos, it's probably our biggest test so far this season, but my expectations are just to get out there and get through the game, enjoy myself. That's what I've missed the most about the last two seasons.
"I just want to get back out there and have a bit of fun. My expectations probably aren't as high as everyone else's but I'm sure the competitiveness in myself will take over when I get out there and I want to be the best I can."