Ryan Papenhuyzen at centre of positive update amid Melbourne Storm absence

The fullback has made a huge step forward in his long recovery.

Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured left) is making great strides in his recovery ahead of a possible return to the NRL. (Getty Images)
Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured left) is making great strides in his recovery ahead of a possible return to the NRL. (Getty Images)

Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen is back running on grass in positive signs for the fullback who has been out for eight months after shattering his knee cap. Papenhuyzen has been on the road to recovery after a sickening knee injury due to a collision with Canberra's Jack Wighton in mid-July last year.

Papenhuyzen's injury was so severe he followed in the footsteps of NRL stars Latrell Mitchell and Manly Sea Eagles fullback Tom Trbojevic by travelling to America to work with renowned sports doctor Bill Knowles. A key part of the focus has been on shifting the mentality for the NRL stars from from rehab to reconditioning.

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Before the season started, Papenhuyzen had to play down reports he would be back playing before round eight at the latest. The fullback claimed this was too soon and he wanted to be performing at his peak before rushing back.

But in the latest update, Papenhuyzen has taken to the field and has started to run again in good signs for the 24-year-old star. And coach Craig Bellamy said this boded well for Papenhuyzen who has endured a long-road back.

"He's made a little progress. He's actually started to run on land," Bellamy said. "I think that's a progression, I'm not quite sure how much of a progression."

Bellamy stopped short of putting any timeline on his return and admitted there was still some time to go before considering a return. "Obviously we don't want to take any chances," he said.

"It's been a long process. There's still a little bit of work to go, I would imagine. But you'd like to think that's a real positive step forward. We'll just have to see how we go from there."

Papenhuyzen was one of the game's top fullbacks and was in the reckoning for State of Origin selection for the Blues before the horror injury. Fans will be hoping to get one of the game's most exciting players back on the park before too long.

Melbourne Storm's mini-injury crisis

The storm are heading into the game against the Rabbitohs in the midst of a personnel crisis. Other than Papenhuyzen, Melbourne are also missing Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Tepai Moeroa and Dean Ieremia to injury, while halfback Jahrome Hughes is suspended until next week.

The Rabbitohs are coming off the back of an extra-time win against the Manly Sea Eagles last Friday. The Rabbitohs have two wins from four, but have suffered losses against fellow NRL heavyweights the Panthers and the Roosters.

Ryan Papenhuyzen during his recovery.
Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured) has started running on grass again in his road to recovery. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

While the Storm have struggled with injury and haven't performed to their usual standard, the return of Cameron Munster was one of the shining lights from their weekend win over the Tigers. The Storm have looked lacklustre since their round-one win, which coincided with a serious finger injury to Munster

While he only had a pin surgically removed on Wednesday, Munster didn't appear troubled as he steered his team to victory. The game's premier five-eighth gave his team some much needed energy, but he was also helped by 20-year-old Jonah Pezet.

with AAP

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