Ryan Papenhuyzen has opened up about his relationship with netball star Kelsey Browne, saying she’s been a driving force behind his push for an NRL premiership.
Papenhuyzen will line up at fullback for the Melbourne Storm in Sunday’s grand final against the Penrith Panthers.
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And if the speedster manages to taste victory and capture his maiden premiership, Browne will be one of the first people he thanks.
The Australian Diamonds star has been staying with Papenhuyzen in the Melbourne Storm’s quarantine accommodation on the Sunshine Coast.
And in Browne the 22-year-old has the perfect inspiration and sounding board.
“She has played for the Diamonds and won two premierships up here on the Sunshine Coast with the Lightning, so she is pretty handy,” Papenhuyzen told NRL.com.
“I will have to ask her for some advice this week about how she did it because she won two titles back-to-back.
“Every now and then she gets a bit cheeky and tells me she has won two and I haven't won one yet, so that is a bit of fire in the belly.”
Browne, who plays for the Melbourne Vixens in Super Netball, originally had to stay home when Papenhuyzen and the Storm relocated to Queensland.
But they were able to link back up when the netball season also relocated to the sunshine state, and they’ve been able to stay together now that Browne’s season is over.
“There are different experiences in netball and rugby league but we do share a lot of experiences that work for her and work for me. It is pretty cool,” Papenhuyzen said.
Penrith aim to do what Melbourne can’t
This year's grand finale pits a Panthers side that has enjoyed the best season in living memory against the greatest powerhouse of the modern era.
Fittingly, it’s the team that handled the NRL’s lockdown the best against the side that has been galvanised by being forced out of home for four months.
It’s also a clash of the game’s best young talent in the likes of Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai trying to deny arguably the greatest of all time in Cameron Smith.
Penrith’s players have just three grand finals between them.
Smith is on Sunday entering his eighth and potentially last if he chooses to retire.
The Storm captain also knows Penrith’s position.
In 2006 he captained a Melbourne side to the decider with just one player who had been there before in Matt Geyer.
The Storm had finished eight points clear on top of the ladder and recorded six more wins than their grand final opponents Brisbane during the season.
This was the Broncos past their peak but crucially had 16 premierships between then. They shocked Melbourne 15-8.
“Looking back at those two footy sides, they had big-game experience,” Smith said.
“We were in that match for most of it but when it mattered, those big-game players came up with the players to get the victory.
“Guys like (Shaun) Berrigan, (Darren) Lockyer and Shane Webcke - they were fantastic that night.
“When you look at our team, we have some good experience there and we will need it to get us the victory this week.”
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