Instead of putting a target on Billy Slater’s back, Brisbane sound more likely to give it a pat when the Melbourne veteran makes his long-awaited NRL return on Thursday night.
The Broncos have toasted Slater ahead of his comeback clash from a two-year battle with shoulder dramas, dismissing talk that the Storm fullback will be “fair game”.
“It’s good to see Billy playing footy again if he is back this week,” Brisbane lock Josh McGuire said.
“I’ve always seen Billy as the ultimate professional so I’m sure he’ll be ready.
“He’s not the type of person to come into a match underdone.
“And he won’t have to worry about me targeting him because I can’t catch him – he’s too quick for me.”
Slater will end a year-long wait for his latest return after being limited to just eight games in the past two seasons by shoulder issues.
Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough baulked when asked if they would target the wily No.1’s troublesome shoulder.
“I wouldn’t say he is fair game,” he said. “Billy is Billy. He’s a professional. He will slot straight into the team. He has had a couple of tough years.
“When he goes out there he will be ready to go – no doubt they won’t be risking him.
Slater received even more praise from Brisbane bench forward Jai Arrow, who was just eight when the Melbourne fullback made his NRL debut in 2003.
“I grew up watching him,” he said.
“He’s been a part of the game for a long time so it will be surreal to take him on down in Melbourne.
“It will be another learning curve playing against someone of that calibre.”