Ryan Papenhuyzen in brutal development amid 'frustrating' injury recovery

The Melbourne Storm fullback is still without a timeframe for when he might be back in the NRL.

·4-min read
Ryan Papenhuyzen, pictured here on the sidelines during a Melbourne Storm game.
Ryan Papenhuyzen hasn't played for the Melbourne Storm since July last year. Image: Getty

Ryan Papenhuyzen has revealed he still doesn't have a timeframe on when he might be back in action in the NRL, despite initial thoughts he would be back on the field by now. The Melbourne Storm fullback suffered a badly broken kneecap in a collision with Jack Wighton last July.

Last month, Papenhuyzen ramped up his recovery and was able to run on firm ground for the first time in almost nine months. He transitioned from running in water and on sand only, in a positive update that had fans hoping for his imminent return.

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But in an appearance on 'Sunday Night with Matty Johns', Papenhuyzen revealed he has suffered a slight setback due to an issue with his quad. When asked when he might be back, the 24-year-old responded: “I wish I had a proper answer to this question, but I guess for everyone to understand, it’s still a bit complicated.

“I’ve got a bit of a deficiency in the right quad which I did my knee on and it’s all about just getting it to under 10 per cent. Once it’s under 10 per cent, it should ramp up, but we’ve just had a few difficulties.

“It’s annoying. I have to be patient, it’s frustrating for me as well, but that’s the best way to explain it."

Nick Meaney has filled in admirable at fullback while Papenhuyzen has been out. However Meaney will likely shift back to wing when the Storm's gun fullback eventually returns.

The Storm has taken a cautious approach with Papenhuyzen's recovery, while also seeking the assistance of Philadelphia-based rehab expert Bill Knowles. "It's a long year, so I was aware of that," he said on SEN radio at the start of April.

Ryan Papenhuyzen, pictured here during a Melbourne Storm training session.
Ryan Papenhuyzen looks on during a Melbourne Storm training session. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

"While it is weird doing a pre-season while the boys are in games. I had trust in the medical staff I would get back. There was a perception on the outside that if I am not back by round six or eight, something was wrong with my rehab.

"That's not the case. We wanted to get back to a spot where I could perform at a high level. I haven't had a full season since 2020. We looked at that as remodelling, and then coming back hitting the ground running."

Papenhuyzen has joined the team's full training squad and reported that initial running on grass had gone well. "Now that I'm back running, it will be just about how I back up and if I can do back-to-back days," he said.

"There is nothing set in stone yet but it's looking promising for a return at some point (this season). There's still a long way to go to get where I need to be."

Ryan Papenhuyzen inspiring rookie Storm teammate

Papenhuyzen's dedication to rehab has inspired housemate Jonah Pezet, who has made an impressive start to his career at age 20. "There are no better players to learn off than the people down here," Pezet told AAP of Papenhuyzen.

"He's going through a tough time but he's one of the most resilient blokes I know. He's pretty strong, he knows what he has to do.

"It's just about when he's having the bad days, you don't need to go at him about doing the dishes or anything like that. He's one of the most positive blokes I know."

with AAP

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