Slater feeling fresh
After three separate surgeries over the off season, Melbourne fullback Billy Slater says he's feeling fresh but still has improvement left ahead of 2015.
Slater re-joined his teammates last month, completing pre-season training prior to Christmas for the first time since 2007.
"Usually I'm on holidays at this time of year but I'm quite enjoying getting some work and volume into my body, I haven't been able to do that over the last few years," Slater said.
"I'm feeling quite good at the moment, there's still a bit of improvement in my body and hopefully over the next month or two I'll be fully fit.
"I'm feeling as good as I've felt over the last three or four years."
In between Storm's final match of 2014 and returning to training in preparation for the year ahead the fullback underwent surgery to his shoulder and elbow as well as laser vision correction.
"I didn't realise it was a problem until I went and saw the optometrist," Slater said.
"Looking at the scoreboard, 6s and 8s were a little bit confusing but whether it effected my game I'm not too sure.
"I was wearing contacts for three quarters of the year and they were just annoying, I'd only wear them for games so opted for the surgery.
"I've been quite busy, I had a little clean up on my elbow just a little niggle I've had over the last couple of years. While I got my shoulder surgery, two weeks later I got my left elbow cleaned up."
As announced on Tuesday, Cameron Smith is another Storm player who will require off-season surgery. Coming off Australia's Four Nations campaign, the Melbourne captain requires ankle surgery to treat his left ankle syndesmosis injury.
"It's disappointing he's got to go in for surgery this late in preparations for the season," Slater said.
"That's just what has to happen, the injury occurred at the back end of the Storm year and it settled down before the Four Nations and then it obviously reoccured in the final.
"Cam doesn't miss many games of football, he's quite a quick healer so hopefully he won't miss much footy.
"If he does, it gives an opportunity to a younger guy, a Slade Griffin who's had a few injuries himself, we've got Ryan Hinchcliffe that can step in at dummy half there."