Ryan Papenhuyzen news delights NRL fans after massive injury update

The Melbourne Storm fullback hasn't played in over a year after shattering his kneecap.

Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Ryan Papenhuyzen looks set to make his return to the playing field this year. Image: Getty

Ryan Papenhuyzen got through his first contact session in nearly a year this week and is looking to make his return to the playing field in the coming weeks. The Melbourne Storm fullback suffered a devastating knee injury last year when he shattered his kneecap in a collision with Jack Wighton.

His recovery has been long and arduous, with the 25-year-old opening up about how frustrating a number of setbacks have been. Papenhuyzen recently returned to the training paddock with the Storm, and this week completed his first full contact session since last July.

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Speaking to reporters, Storm coach Craig Bellamy wouldn't rule out Papenhuyzen making his return to the NRL this year, but said the fullback will need to play a number of games in Queensland Cup before that is considered. The veteran coach admitted he had all-but given up hope of Papenhuyzen playing this year just three weeks ago, but now has renewed hope.

“We’re not going to do that (bring Papenhuyzen straight back into first grade), and he’ll play some Queensland Cup games, without a doubt,” Bellamy told the Sydney Morning Herald. “How much match practice he’ll need at that lower level, I’m not quite sure. There’s no way he would come straight back into the NRL after how long he’s had out.

"The last 10 days, it’s been a rapid improvement. Maybe it was a confidence thing. I don’t know whether it’s been physical or mental or both ... he’ll build on that contact. He’s definitely on the right track."

The 25-year-old also provided an update for fans on social media on Saturday, tweeting: "I reckon I’m only a few weeks away now. Good couple of weeks at training. Back into contact, back into everything really. Now just topping up some k’s in the legs."

The Storm sit fourth on the ladder on 28 points after their loss to Newcastle in round 21, and have six games remaining until the finals. The return of Papenhuyzen would undoubtedly be a boost to their finals hopes, although Nick Meaney has been playing brilliantly in the No.1 jersey.

Meaney is also a brilliant winger and could vacate the fullback position if Papenhuyzen returns, or Papenhuyzen could be used as an x-factor off the bench like he did early in his career. However there is also the possibility that the game-breaking fullback is put on ice until 2024.

"This week has a been a big step forward for him and I was a bit surprised earlier in the week with how well he's moving," Bellamy previously said. "We're not going to push his return but this week has been very promising in the progress that he's made."

Ryan Papenhuyzen, pictured here being tackled by Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
Ryan Papenhuyzen is tackled by Nelson Asofa-Solomona at Melbourne Storm training. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

NRL fans react to massive Ryan Papenhuyzen update

Earlier this year, Papenhuyzen flew to the states to work with Philadelphia-based rehab expert Bill Knowles, who has also helped Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and Kalyn Ponga. "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," he said in April.

"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."

Fans were over the moon to hear of Papenhuyzen's progress and the prospect of him returning to game action this season.

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