RUGBY LEAGUE: Returning fullback Billy Slater has been ruled out of contesting the Auckland Nines, but he is on track to start in the Storm's pre-season trial games.
The 33-year-old has been sidelined for all but eight games over the past two NRL seasons due to a shoulder injury.
"(He will) definitely be playing in our 13 v 13 trials,” Storm assistant coach Jason Ryles told Sky Sports Radio.
"(But) it's not worth the risk sending a player of his quality to the Nines, I don't think.”
The 278-gamer's shoulder has returned to full strength, with Ryles saying he was "training really well”.
"He's started his contact so he's in pretty good shape at the moment. He's increasing his contact every week,” he said.
"He's been back in full training for quite a while now. Hopefully he translates that into a good NRL season.”
Ryles added that Slater's return would allow stand-in fullback Cameron Munster to shift into a ball-running role. He has been training at five-eighth over the summer.
"There's certainly a huge bonus having Bill back and also having Cameron Munster as a bit more of a runner,” he said.