Craig Bellamy's revelation about Ryan Papenhuyzen amid fears of Melbourne Storm exit

The Storm are looking to extend their star No.1's contract.

Craig Bellamy has sung the praises of Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen as the club looks to extend his contract. The 25-year-old premiership winner has scored 53 tries in 78 games for the Storm since his debut in 2019 but has only played 21 games over the last three seasons due to injury.

His injury-riddled last few seasons led to speculation that the club may look to cut their losses amid the emergence of young gun Sua Fa'alogo during the Pacific Championships in the NRL off-season. The Sydney Morning Herald reported last October that a third party acting on behalf of the Storm had approached a rival club to gauge their interest in Papenhuyzen. It was claimed that after upgrading Fa'alogo's contract and moving him into the club's top 30 for the 2024 season, the club was considering letting Papenhuyzen go.

Pictured Craig Bellamy left and Ryan Papenhuyzen right
Craig Bellamy has heaped praise on Ryan Papenhuyzen as the club prepares to open negotiations with their star No.1 about a contract extension. Image: Getty

Fa’alogo is contracted until the end of the 2028 season, while Papenhuyzen’s current contract ends in 2025, which means he is free to negotiate with NRL rivals as of November 1. But after a strong start to 2024, the same news outlet now reports Melbourne have done a 180 and are eager to tie down their star No.1 long-term.

Storm chairman Matt Tripp is expected to get the ball rolling on negotiations with Papenhuyzen in the coming weeks to ward off potential rival approaches. "He’s been a great servant of the club, and it’s fantastic to see him back on the park," Tripp told The Sydney Morning Herald.

"We see him as a key part of our future, and we will begin those talks within the next couple of weeks." The news comes as Bellamy heaped praise on the Storm No.1 after another strong showing in Melbourne's 18-12 win over the Roosters on Thursday night, which elevated Bellamy's side to the top of the table.

“He has obviously had a lot of bad luck over the last couple of years and it is good to have him back,” Bellamy said in his press conference. "Harry Grant will probably tell you he is a real thinker about the game. He’s a wonderful leader and I’d imagine out on the field he would do a lot of talking.


“At the moment he’s probably not relying on his pace like he probably used to. He’s relying on his smarts a bit. I think every game he plays he is just getting a little bit better and a bit more confident. I don’t think if you just watch him that he doesn’t look as though he is mentally scarred, but I think early on he still had a couple of those demons. But I think he has found it now.

"He is right back into it. He is heavily involved. He did a really good job for us under the high ball there tonight. He had a couple of really good takes when he was under pressure. He has just slowly but surely got over his injuries, but he has slowly but surely got his confidence back as well and I’m really happy with the way he is progressing at the moment."

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14: Sualauvi Faalogo of Samoa attempts to evade the Kangaroos defence during the Mens Pacific Championship match between Australia Kangaroos and Samoa at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)
Melbourne moved to lock down Sua Fa'alogo on a long term deal after starring in the Pacific Championships in the NRL off-season.

Craig Bellamy expects Ryan Papenhuyzen to regain trademark explosive speed

One of Papenhuyzen's most valuable assets is his acceleration, and while it hasn't quite returned to what it was before his recent injuries, Bellamy believes it will come back with more game time in the coming months. "He has had a lot of time out of the game. And it is one thing pace and just practising being fast, but practising being fast in his job and sometimes you only get that on the field," Bellamy said.

"That is hard to replicate at training, so I think he is just starting to get that confidence back and confidence is building and I’m sure he has still got some improvement in him yet, before he is back to top form, but he is doing a great jobs for us."