Organising was one of Slater’s strengths and it’s still on show at training.
“It doesn’t come naturally to me and it’s something I have to do as a full-back in the NRL,” Hughes said with a laugh this week.
“Even when I’m at training now Billy is talking over me, he’s still got it in him. I’ll keep working with Billy at that.”
While his voice is still a work in progress, Hughes has more than held his own in attack for the Storm this season with two tries and a league-best 605 return run metres.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy praised Hughes on NRL 360 this week stating he was rarely out of the team’s best five players in all the games so far.
But Hughes knows alternate full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen is pushing hard to play, while Scott Drinkwater is recovering from his shoulder injury and will likely be in contention for selection later in the season.
“I feel like I still have to earn it,” Hughes said.
“Billy is still coming in and we have a couple of good full-backs here so I still have a lot to do before I can call that full-back jumper my own.
“Ryan is a good player and very energetic. We have ‘Drinky’ as well who is going to be out for a while but it makes me want to perform better and I’ll need to do that to keep that spot.”
Hughes played 11 games last season in a variety of back line roles but is feeling the strain after seven full games at full-back, which requires much greater running than most other roles.
“I’m not used to playing full-back week in, week out so I’ve been pretty sore after games,” Hughes said.
“It has been pretty tough and my body has been pulling up sore but we have put a few things in place with the staff so I can handle that kind of grind.
“There is extra things I can be doing before and after training which I can be doing and need to be doing to stay on the field.”
Melbourne Storm play Cronulla Sharks in Sydney on Friday at 7.50pm.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.