NRL: Melbourne linchpin sure knee will hold up against Canterbury

Brilliant custodian's return from injury coincided with Storm's form revival.

Melbourne fullback Billy Slater con-cedes he is still overcoming a knee injury but insists the dodgy joint will withstand the rigours of the NRL grand final. Slater suffered ligament damage to his left knee during State of Origin II in Sydney on June 13.

His absence from the Storm side in the following weeks resulted in a significant downturn in their premiership fortunes as the one-time NRL frontrunners slumped to five successive losses.

The Melbourne custodian's return from the injury in round 21 helped to reinvigorate the club's premier-ship hopes.

He continues to take the field with his knee heavily strapped but says he has no concerns about the injury heading into the NRL decider on Sunday.

"It's not an issue for me - I don't think about it leading into the game, I don't think about it during the game," Slater said at Thursday's grand final breakfast.

"It's been quite good. It's got better and better as the weeks have gone on, and I have played a fair bit of footy since I had the injury so it is just about managing it."

Slater was diagnosed with a grade two posterior cruciate ligament strain by Storm medical staff and missed five games.

Melbourne lost Slater's return match against St George Illawarra but since then they have gone on to win seven straight games to qualify for their fifth grand final in the last seven seasons.

The Australian No 1, who has starred in both of Melbourne's finals wins, said it was an injury that a number of NRL players have continued to play with.

"It was one of those injuries that happens in the tackle," he said.

"It felt a little bit different, there was a little bit of pain there, I thought I was always going to miss a couple of weeks.

"There are a lot of players in the NRL that haven't got PCLs (posterior cruciate ligaments), or the PCL doesn't function in their knees ... Paul Gallen, Justin Hodges, Sisa Waqa in our side doesn't have one, so you can get away without them.

"I don't know why we have them."

The Slater effect

Storm's NRL record in 2012

Overall: played 26 won 19 lost 7
With Billy Slater: played 20 won 18 lost 2
Without Slater: played 6 won 1 lost 5
v Canterbury: played 2 won 1 lost 1
v Canterbury with Slater: played 1 won 1
v Canterbury without Slater: played 1 lost 1.

- AAP

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