"He's been really impressive"
A rejuvenated Billy Slater has labelled Storm teammate Cameron Munster a 10-year prospect at the Melbourne club, following his breakout 2015 season.
Munster who came into first grade as an injury replacement for Slater – whose year ended after Origin II due to a shoulder injury – went on to play 19 games in his first full NRL season and was a deserving nominee for Dally M Rookie of the Year.
With a host of names usually found in coach Craig Bellamy's outside backs departing Slater was confident preferred custodian Munster will find a place in the Storm's three-quarters.
"Cameron will definitely find a place in our 17 somewhere. He's a great player for our team – not just at the moment but going forward over the next 10 years. He's really developing into something special," Slater said.
"He's been really impressive. I think he's even come on from last season. Not just in a development aspect either but certainly in a leadership role too. He's going to come on in leaps and bounds from last year.
"He's training really well at the minute and he's in great shape. He can play a number of positions – he's really a talented player – and can play anywhere in the halves, centre, wing, fullback.
"Although our halves are pretty healthy, losing Matt Duffie and Kurt Mann on the wing and in the centres [will help his cause]."
Speaking at the Nines jersey launch on Tuesday, Slater was keen to make his long-awaited return at the now-annual tournament.
After being pummelled by Manu Vatuvei over the Easter weekend earlier in the year, Slater grit his teeth through a further three weeks of football before pulling the pin on his season.
The impending return of the Queensland and Australia representative is a big boost for the Nines tournament, and Slater can't wait to experience the festival atmosphere.
"It's exciting on two accounts. Obviously not playing for a long period of time I just want to play a bit of footy so that's exciting as is the opportunity to play at the Nines," Slater said.
"It's a different format and a not so strenuous or as stressful format. You go out and play the 13-a-side week to week and it's high pressure whereas this is a bit like an old school round robin carnival when you're 15.
"I don't think there are any positives out of having a season-ending injury but I'm having a good pre-season at the moment, I'm getting as fit as I can and I'm getting my body in the best shape I can.
"My preparation for 2016 is and will be a good one. Looking at it that way I feel good but I'd rather have not been hit by Manu and copped my shoulder injury but that's the way footy goes sometimes."