Scott Drinkwater impressed on his NRL debut for the Storm last year. Picture: Getty Images
Scott Drinkwater impressed on his NRL debut for the Storm last year. Picture: Getty Images

Storm young gun could snare No. 1 jersey

BILLY Slater is only a phone call away for Scott Drinkwater but the budding Storm fullback knows the only way to win the No.1 jersey is performing well in Friday night's trial against the Warriors.

Drinkwater, 21, is slated to start at fullback, hopeful of playing 40-60 minutes in the club's first official hit-out, less than four weeks from the season-opener against Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park.

Drinkwater has impressed so much in the pre-season the Terrigal junior, who starred on debut last season as a late inclusion, could upstage Slater's long-time successor Jahrome Hughes.

New Zealand international Hughes will be on restricted minutes after suiting up for the Maori in last Friday night's NRL All Star game in Melbourne.

"It all comes down to trials, I believe, as good as training can be, you got to play good footy as well, this Friday night is going to be a big occasion for me," Drinkwater said.

 

Drinkwater has the speed, craft, temperament and tricks to fill the void left by Slater but the communication and execution in the backfield will ultimately decide his fate.

Apart from dazzling the opposition and fans alike for almost two decades Slater also doubled as an on-field coach, barking out orders and directing player movement.

Scott Drinkwater. Melbourne Storm training at Geelong Grammar. Picture: Alan Barber
Scott Drinkwater. Melbourne Storm training at Geelong Grammar. Picture: Alan Barber

"It's (communication) probably not Billy-like but I'm trying my best," Drinkwater said.

"I'm pretty loud out there. I'm pretty talkative but can I get more talkative, probably, I'll look to improve that."

Seeing housemate Brodie Croft ride the selection carousel last year has also fuelled Drinkwater's bid to win the vacant fullback position and not let go.

Croft was named at halfback for Round 1 last year but lasted only five games before Craig Bellamy sent him back to the Queensland Cup.

The playmaker spent three months on the outer before he earned a recall late in the season.

"As a kid all I wanted to do was to play in the NRL and play as many games as I can," Drinkwater said.

"If you get that opportunity you don't want anyone to take it off you because I saw the effects on a few teammates last year (who lost) their jersey and how much it hurt them.

"If you get that position you do your best to hold on to it."

Sandor Earl will make his long-awaited return to football and unofficial Storm debut on Friday night, replacing injured centre Will Chambers (ankle).

FULL STORM TEAM

1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Curtis Scott 5. Sandor Earl 6. Billy Walters 7. Brodie Croft 8. Christian Welch 9. Brandon Smith 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Joe Stimson 12. Tom Eisenhuth 13. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 14. Jahrome Hughes 15. Ryan Papenhuyzen 16. Justin Olam 17. Cheyse Blair 18. Curtis Dansey-Smaller 19. Tom Hughes 20. Cooper Johns 21. Harry Grant 22. Nicho Hynes 23. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 24. Patrick Kaufusi 25. Kelma Tuilagi 27. Matt Stimson 28. Trent Toelau 29. Darryn Schonig 30. Daniel Dole