Ryan Papenhuyzen is hoping to put his nightmare 2023 season behind him, which saw the fullback make only three NRL appearances.

Papenhuyzen was sidelined for the majority of the year as he battled the lingering effects of a horrific knee injury suffered in 2022. Even when he was able to return to the lineup late in the season, he suffered a fractured ankle against Brisbane, effectively ending his season.

Injuries to Ryan Papenhuyzen have been updated ahead of the 2024 NRL season. Nick Meaney performed admirably in Papenhuyzen’s absence, leading the Storm to the preliminary final but losing to eventual premiers Penrith.

Sua Fa’alogo also made an impression on the scene with a standout performance against the Broncos in the same game that saw Papenhuyzen injured.

The worst nightmare has happen to Melbourne Storm key player
The worst nightmare has happen to Melbourne Storm key player

During Papenhuyzen’s injury, the Samoan international and Meaney were mentioned as potential long-term back-up options for the Storm.

However, Melbourne skipper Christian Welch has provided a significant boost, stating that the man affectionately known as the ‘flying mullet’ was back on deck and recovering well from his most recent setback.

“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,” said Welch.

“I believe that one of the most difficult aspects of having those injuries is feeling isolated at times.

“When he wasn’t on the field, he was preparing video and strategy for the team to try to help, which was extremely beneficial to us. He is a deep thinker and a reflective person, and these qualities have served him well when times have been difficult.

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

Will Ryan Papenhuyzen play for the Storm in Round 1?

“We didn’t see too much of him pre-Christmas, but he’s come back…and he was jumping in drills, and he looks electric,” Welch said just under two months out from Melbourne’s opening round clash against Penrith.

“Speed kills in the NRL and he’s got it in spades. It’s really exciting for us as a squad to have him coming back on top of Sua Fa’alogo’s emergence as well.

“There’s plenty of speed which is really exciting except for when you’re trying to chase them down in training drills. It’s nice when you look up out of a scrum and you see these guys causing a bit of chaos.”

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