A month-long injury layoff has left Billy Slater approaching Holden State of Origin with a fresh mind, the superstar fullback has revealed.
Slater spent four weeks out with a shoulder injury he suffered in Round 5 but that time on the sidelines may yet prove to be somewhat of a blessing in disguise.
His first two games back for the Storm have yielded two tries, two try assists and two line breaks as the 31-year-old has quickly reminded the competition who the best fullback in the game is.
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Despite an initially rocky start to 2015 Slater says he now feels in the best shape he has all season heading into Origin I.
"I feel quite good actually, probably fresh in the head more than anything," Slater said after the Storm's 16-12 win over the Rabbitohs on Saturday night.
"Not that I wasn't fresh and concentrating on my role in the first few games but I just feel a lot more free.
"I was probably thinking about things a bit too much in those first five games and I feel like I'm going into games and enjoying myself a lot more.
"It's quite frustrating being on the sideline and you don't take it for granted after you've been out for a bit."
For the first time in nine years Queensland will head into camp looking to win the Shield rather than retain it.
It is a different experience for Slater, who has been a mainstay throughout the dominant Maroons period, but it is one he is ready to relish.
"It is always exciting starting an Origin campaign. We are going in after losing the series last year, that is probably the only difference to any other year," Slater said.
"It is a good environment going into camp, Mal basically told everyone what the side is going to be and it is no real surprise to us.
"We are looking forward to going in and seeing the boys and getting our campaign off to a good start."
The Storm have a bye next week with Slater heading into the Queensland camp along with Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers.
The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.