Nerves have plagued Billy Slater ahead of his long awaited NRL return, Cameron Smith admits, and the Melbourne skipper doesn't blame him.
But Smith has backed the veteran fullback to quickly bounce back to his old self in Thursday night's clash with Brisbane.
Slater will finally end his year-long wait to return from yet another shoulder reconstruction after being named in the Storm's team to take on the Broncos at AAMI Park.
He has been restricted to eight games in two years due to ongoing - and at one stage career-threatening - shoulder dramas.
Smith said a quick chat with Slater on Tuesday revealed just how anxious the veteran was before his big game.
"I caught up with Billy over a cup of tea. There's no doubt he's got some nerves there getting back into the game," Smith told Fox Sports.
"We are talking about a guy who has had consecutive shoulder reconstructions, not played since round one 2016.
"And it wasn't minor surgery. It was an operation that could really affect his life after football."
However, Smith didn't expect Slater to succumb to nerves once he crossed the white line.
"He is the type of guy once he gets out on the field he doesn't worry about his body, he plays at 100 per cent," he said.
Smith was keeping his fingers crossed that Slater got through Wednesday's final training session unscathed.
"I want to see Billy Slater back as much as anyone else. It would be great for rugby league and the fans," he said.