GF hurt drives Hynes to shine for Storm

·2-min read

Amid all of Melbourne's post-match celebrations after last year's NRL grand-final triumph, Nicho Hynes was a conflicted man.

While Hynes walked away from that night with a premiership ring, he'd failed to get on the field for even a second - the first player in 26 years not to feature from the bench in a grand final.

It was a hurt that motivated him to make sure he couldn't be overlooked again by coach Craig Bellamy in 2021.

"That day, I didn't want to ever have that happen to me again," Hynes told AAP.

"I made sure I worked really hard in the preseason and then I wanted to start the year good and maintain my consistency ... make sure I'm the main reason why we're going to be doing so well.

"I'm happy where I'm at the moment and just making sure I'm playing good footy for finals."

Hynes's importance has grown throughout the season to the point where many were wondering if last year's Clive Churchill medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen should be dropped at fullback after an indifferent return from a lengthy concussion-related layoff.

Papenhuyzen showed he's back to his best however in a dominant display against Cronulla last weekend, cementing his No.1 status ahead of Friday's qualifying final against Manly.

But Hynes is unlikely to find himself surplus to requirements with Bellamy relying on his versatility, particularly if Cameron Munster's recovery from a knee infection doesn't go to plan and is unable to face the Sea Eagles at Sunshine Coast.

The 25-year-old has a new motivation heading into finals given he's nearing the end of his time at the Storm after agreeing to join Cronulla from 2022 onwards.

The reality of that impending move is only just starting to dawn on Hynes.

"I haven't really sat back and thought about it to be honest," he said.

"Just having that question now has made me think about it a little bit.

"It's a bit upsetting you know? It's all I've known for the last few years and it's made me who I am this club.

"It's crazy to think about it but I want to finish on a high so I'm excited to do that."

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