Craig Bellamy has all-but confirmed the Melbourne Storm will be without Ryan Papenhuyzen for the remainder of the NRL season after the star fullback suffered a broken kneecap on Sunday.
For the first time since round nine, Melbourne had their complete spine together against Canberra at AAMI Park.
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But it lasted just 19 minutes after Papenhuyzen was helped off after a sickening clash of right kneecaps with Jack Wighton.
The Storm fullback was taken to hospital and is expected to have an operation on Monday.
"He's got a broken kneecap and he won't be back (this season) I wouldn't imagine," Bellamy said in his post-match press conference.
Papenhuyzen has scored 14 tries in 11 games this season despite missing matches with a posterior cruciate ligament injury and a hamstring issue.
"He's laboured a little bit since he has been back but I thought he looked pretty sharp there," Bellamy said.
Wighton had plenty of sympathy for Papenhuyzen, who he described as a champion bloke and player.
"I really hate seeing that stuff for any player," Wighton said.
The NRL Physio Twitter account said a complete fracture of the kneecap would result in a 4-6 month recovery period for Papenhuyzen.
Ryan Papenhuyzen off to hospital with his patella (kneecap) fracture, expected to undergo surgery tomorrow. Usually indicates a more significant fracture (possible “complete break”), was the fear w amount of trauma involved. Usual 4-6 month recovery time if so, thoughts with him pic.twitter.com/h5dvvRu87s
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) July 17, 2022
Raiders upset the Storm after Papenhuyzen injury
Papenhuyzen and talismanic five-eighth Cameron Munster, back from missing State of Origin III with Covid-19, combined to create early problems for Canberra, though the former did blot his copybook a couple of times.
He butchered a try to winger Nick Meaney with a forward pass and then watched Raiders winger Sebastian Kris race 85 metres to score after another wayward pass.
The Raiders notched a fourth straight win over the Storm at AAMI Park and moved up one spot to 10th, just two points behind eighth-placed Manly.
"We're in the (finals) hunt there's no doubt about that I just need us to play with that type of spirit," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.
Meaney crossed first, but tries to Kris and James Schiller, his first NRL four-pointer, set up a 14-6 half-time lead for Canberra.
Melbourne rallied and hit the front again with tries to halfback Jahrome Hughes and Queensland Origin hooker Harry Grant.
Schiller, who was a late inclusion, forced the last decisive lead change of the game with an outstanding 66th minute try.
Down to 12 men with Jordan Rapana in the sin-bin for making high contact with Marion Seve, Canberra regained the lead when Schiller, confronted by Meaney, toed the ball ahead, went outside the field of play around the corner flag and touched down for a brilliant solo try.
Canberra later lost Schiller to an ankle injury, but not before he saved a try by knocking a pass away.
"We give him an opportunity this year, he's a good young fellow and he's taken it with both hands and he's done well," Stuart said of Schiller, whose ankle issue doesn't appear serious.
Melbourne appeared to have levelled the game when Hughes got over the line but a review showed he lost control of the ball under pressure from Raiders fullback Xavier Savage.
"We created a lot of opportunities so that was a huge improvement on the last couple of weeks, but we just couldn't finish a few of them off," Bellamy said.
"We've just got to keep working hard in our preparation and hopefully things will turn."
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