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Hughes earns high praise from Storm coach

AAP News | 15th Mar 19

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says he couldn't have asked for more from Billy Slater's fullback replacement Jahrome Hughes after he starred in their NRL opening round win over Brisbane.

Hughes scored the first try of the season, touching down in the third minute right in front of the Slater stand at AAMI Park, named this week in the retired superstar's honour.

Hughes went into the match under plenty of pressure to emulate one of the game's best ever players.

He also was well aware he wasn't Melbourne's first-choice replacement, with Scott Drinkwater in the box seat until a serious pectoral injury in their second trial.

But finishing with 218 metres and a try in their 22-12 win, his accomplished performance earned high praise from Bellamy

"I thought Hughesy was our best player - he was outstanding," Bellamy said.

"He had a whole heap of runs, he was very effective with a lot of things that he did.

"His test will be to be consistent with that but I couldn't be more happy with his performance"

Bellamy said that Hughes had taken on board the coaching given by Slater, who is back at the Storm in a part-time role to work with the young fullbacks at the club.

"Billy been working with them and there were some signs there that Jahrome has been taking a fair bit of notice," Bellamy said.

"It's hard to replace a Billy Slater, for so long he's been playing quality footy, but we have all worked really hard and Billy's been a big part of that."

Bellamy was happy to see his team deliver an improved completion rate after some worrying signs in their two trials.

They finished with an 87 per cent rate, completing 34 of 39 sets.

"Obviously it was a huge, huge improvement on what we did in the trials," Bellamy said.

"It was nice for us to complete like that after what we've done in the trials and at training but we're not patting ourselves on the back just yet, we need to be consistent."

--End Article--
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