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'All systems go': Smith backs Hughes to replace Slater

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith is confident Jahrome Hughes can step up and fill the void at fullback this season.

Champion fullback Billy Slater departed the Storm at the end of last season and Scott Drinkwater appeared the man most likely to fill the void in the No.1 jersey after he started at the back in both pre-season trials.

But Drinkwater is expected to be sidelined for up to four months after he ruptured a pec muscle against the Cowboys in Mackay on Saturday night.

That leaves Hughes as the next man up for Storm in the crucial fullback position and Smith said the young Kiwi was more than capable of slotting in.

"Jahrome is an accomplished fullback and he can fill that void quite well," Smith said at AAMI Park on Tuesday as Storm unveiled real estate company Purplebricks as their new jersey sponsor.

"Things don't really change in regards to how we go about our football.

"It's just a bit hard for everyone to get their heads around that someone who has trained with us all pre-season will be out of action for the majority of the season.

"But once we get around that it is all systems go."

The Storm show off their new 2019 jerseys.
The Storm show off their new 2019 jerseys. ©

Smith said it was a devastating blow to lose Drinkwater to injury, although he backed the young gun to recover quickly and regain his best form in no time.

"It is just awful as it looks like he is out for about 16 weeks," Smith added.

"These things are an evil part of our game and to see a young guy on the up do it is devastating."

Smith made his first appearance of the pre-season against the Cowboys on Saturday with the veteran hooker surviving a 50-minute run in humid conditions during Storm's 14-6 loss to the Cowboys in the north of Queensland.

The Storm captain said his body was feeling good ahead of Melbourne's blockbuster Telstra Premiership opener against Brisbane.

"[The Broncos are] traditional rivals of ours and we couldn't ask for a better start to the season," Smith said.

"I had a good hit-out a couple of days ago in Mackay where [Storm coach Craig Bellamy] gave me 50 minutes, I got through it unscathed and am looking forward to the first game."

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.