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Disturbing X-ray images have emerged of Ryan Papenhuyzen's shattered kneecap after the Melbourne Storm fullback fractured the bone into 10 different pieces against Canberra last week.
Papenhuyzen's season was ended when he was trampled by Raiders star Jack Wighton, whose knee collided straight into that of the Storm fullback at high speed.
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He was immediately taken from the field in excruciating pain and successfully underwent surgery.
“It certainly was one of those collision injuries that when he went down everyone stopped, you could feel the tension in the air,” Melbourne chief executive Justin Rodski told SEN radio this week.
“Obviously, it’s really disappointing for him, he’s had a really tough run with injuries.
“He put his body on the line on Sunday afternoon and I think he broke his kneecap in 10 different places in the end, it was a pretty brutal injury.
“I asked our team doctor because I couldn’t get how you would piece it back together.
“They put pins and certain little clips in that stay inside your knee and inside your body.
“Apparently, it can heal really quickly with the pins and the clips and he can make a full recovery which is fantastic.
“It certainly isn’t great, we were really feeling for him, he’s had such a tough run of injuries but whenever he gets back, he’s been in blistering form.
“His recovery time is around three months I think, we won’t see him again this year, unfortunately.
“He’s so important for our team and our structure as a fullback, it was heartbreaking as a club."
X-rays of the injury have since emerged, with the 'NRL Physio' Twitter account labelling it "one of the most brutal NRL injuries we’ve seen in years."
For those asking - a healthy patella pic.twitter.com/JVO9v7qHvk
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) July 22, 2022
Melbourne Storm seeking replacement for Papenhuyzen
Rodski said the club will now head to the market to find a replacement for Papenhuyzen.
“Now we’ve got to move forward, find a replacement and get back on the winner’s list," he said.
“We’ve got one more list spot which we can fill, we’ve got until August 1 to do that.
“We’re working through our options there, outside back is key to us moving forward with Papenhuyzen now out.”
The flying fullback joins Xavier Coates, George Jennings and Reimis Smith on Craig Bellamy's long-term injury list.
The Storm face a resurgent South Sydney outfit this weekend and have opted to name utility Tyran Wishart on the wing, with Nick Meaney slotting in at fullback.
With such a big list of injuries, Rodski hoped the Storm would be able to bring in an extra body prior to the NRL's August 1 signing deadline.
"We'll be stretched in terms of our depth," he said.
"An outside back is key for us moving forward with Papenhuyzen now out.
"It's going to be a challenge but if anyone can do it, it's Craig Bellamy."
One player who won't be joining the Storm is Reece Walsh, with the Warriors denying an attempt from Melbourne to sign the young star for the rest of the season.
The 20-year-old fullback has been benched for the Warriors' clash with Canberra and is heading to Brisbane on a three-year deal starting in 2023.
With the Warriors out of finals contention, the Storm had approached the New Zealand club about signing Walsh for the rest of this year.
"That's been hit on the head," Bellamy revealed on on Friday.
"That's been knocked back by the Warriors so we've moved on.
"My job is not to go out there and try and find a replacement, my job is to coach with what we've got here and the other people on the recruitment side will look after that."
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