Ryan Papenhuyzen Another Heavy Set Back As The Star Is Expected To…

Melbourne Storm captain Christian Welch has provided an injury update on star teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen who is coming back from a horror run of injuries

Sidelined for over 12 months due to shattering his kneecap in 2022, Papenhuyzen made his comeback to the NRL just before last year’s finals, but the return was short-lived.

Instead of being fully fit and the much-needed X-fact for the Storm in the finals, he suffered an ankle injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season and allowed the club to bow out of the finals to the Penrith Panthers in the preliminary final.

Entering a new season, Christian Welch has revealed that the fullback is eyeing a return for Round 1.

Already returned to training, Papenhuyzen has looked in good shape during the pre-season, according to NCA Newswire and several social media photos put forward by the club.

It’s been a tough couple of years for him and I can really empathise with those long-term injuries because I’ve had a few myself,” Welch told NCA Newswire.

“He’s had a really good attitude.

“I think the biggest thing when you have those injuries is that you can sometimes feel a bit isolated.

“The team plays for 27 weeks and if you’re not a part of it, it’s easy to feel a bit left out, but he’s made it a real focus to stay involved and try to help the boys however he could.

“While he wasn’t on the field, he was doing video and strategy preparation for the team to try to help which was really beneficial for us.

He’s a deep thinker and very reflective, and those skills that he has have held him in good stead when the times have been tough.

“We’re starting to see him emerge from those tough times and he’s now starting to flourish.”

If Papenhuyzen is unavailable for the club’s season-opener, Sua Fa’alogo and Nick Meaney are the two obvious choices to contend for the number one jersey.

Fa’alogo is more likely, considering Nick Meaney will move to the centres after the departure of Justin Olam, so he and Papenhuyzen can be on the field at the same time.

However, when Papenhuyzen is back, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Craig Bellamy move him to the interchange bench rather than out of the squad.

“It’s exciting to have some of these weapons,” Welch added.

“Craig gets paid a lot so he’s got some tough decisions to figure out how this is all going to work because I’m not sure how you fit them all in, but you’ve got to have these guys playing every week in the NRL in terms of Sua, Paps and Nick Meaney.

I’m not sure how they’re going to juggle the backline and the bench, but it’s really exciting to have those weapons at your disposal.

“Sua has had a great pre-season and looks as fast as ever so it’s good competition for those spots in the outside backs.

“We’ve got Xavier Coates and Will Warbrick who both had great years.

Will played for New Zealand A, and Xavier took out our player of the year award so it’s not just the fullbacks fighting for spots, there’s a really competitive nature for all the spots in the outside backs.”

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