The $2m fullback deal is seen as a waste of potential for some, but Slater has admitted he hadn’t given it much thought as Addo-Carr is “one of the best wingers in the game”.
Wests Tigers have tabled Addo-Carr a four-year deal, including bonuses if he plays at least half the season at fullback, however the Storm have not yet approved his wishes to return to Sydney a year early.
Looking past Addo-Carr’s extreme speed, Slater said the ‘Foxx’ had multiple key qualities required for the role.
Fans will be wondering why their club cut Addo-Carr and Melbourne fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen loose in the first place when they line up against the Tigers this Saturday.
Slater commented on Addo-Carr’s defensive reads in Origin I last year, saying the trait shows that he’s more than just a “textbook, robotic winger”.
“He saved about three tries with his footy nous and speed that night,” Slater told the Herald.
“And by doing that it showed he understands the game and isn’t your textbook, robotic winger. He has a feel for the game. That’s what you need from your fullback because there will be different situations thrown at you all the time, and instinctively you’ll need to come up with the right play.
“We all know he’s super fast. We all know if Josh Addo-Carr plays fullback he’ll be able to run 80m and score a try. He’s going to create a highlights reel – he already has.
“But it will take time to understand the opposition better than anyone else on the field, and the need to know where all the threats are and when they’ll come in a game. It’s certainly not beyond him.”
Slater continued to mention how Addo-Carr would sit at the front of the meeting room when Craig Bellamy devised game planes, always ready to learn.
“He’d be there nodding and was always fixated on what Craig had to say,” Slater said.
“That work ethic he does have, that’s what also gives me confidence [he’ll succeed].
“At the end of the day it’s in his hands, just like it was in Latrell Mitchell’s hands when he moved [to fullback at] Souths. He’ll be good enough if he’s willing to put in the work and continue to develop.”
Addo-Carr has formed a deadly combination in the backline with Papenhuyzen, who was let go by the Tigers when the Balmain junior thought Wests were going to extend James Tedesco’s contract.
Slater commented on the way Papenhuyzen was an advantage for the Storm last year by tiring opposition forwards by using him off the bench through the middle.
“It [Origin] is not too early for Paps,” Slater said.
“Cameron Smith had only played a dozen or so games when he was picked for Queensland, and I’d only played a season and a half, the same as Paps.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise the way he came into the NRL. I dare say if he never played off the bench for those dozen games last year, they wouldn’t be thinking about him [for Origin]. He showed how tough he is and how effective he can be through the middle of the field.
“It would make me quite nervous if Paps came onto the field when Queensland forwards were tired – that’s the biggest endorsement I can give him.”
— NRL (@NRL) July 2, 2020
👀 | He learnt his craft with Billy Slater at Melbourne Storm but can Josh Addo-Carr have a similar impact to the legendary full back at Wests?: https://t.co/nbcpofyakX @FatimaKdouh_ pic.twitter.com/fzesRAcfZI
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) September 14, 2020