Ryan Papenhuyzen's brutal admission about comeback from injury

The Melbourne Storm fullback has poured cold water on recent reports about his expected return from injury.

Pictured here, Ryan Papenhuyzen in training with the Melbourne Storm.
Ryan Papenhuyzen has poured cold water on reports he could return to the NRL between rounds six and eight. Pic: Getty

Superstar Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has made a worrying admission about his return from injury after pouring cold water on reports he's set to return to the NRL between rounds six and eight. The 24-year-old has been busy in his recovery from a sickening broken kneecap suffered midway through the 2023 season.

Reports emerged last week that the Storm fullback was expected to make his NRL comeback in round eight at the latest, with some suggestions he could return as early as round six. However, Papenhuyzen says his recovery is complex and could mean he is sidelined for longer than expected.

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"Something came out the other week that I'd be back around rounds six (to) eight, that's a little bit ambitious at the moment," Papenhuyzen told Triple M's Rush Hour. "It's a slow process."

"The mentality at the moment is to get back and be at the level I was performing at before, or close enough, rather than just coming back. It's taking a little bit longer but that's giving me confidence to chase after it and make sure I'm back playing a good level of footy."

Papenhuyzen has followed in the footsteps of Roosters star Latrell Mitchell and Manly 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.

"You learn about your body and how it moves. We laid out a plan and identified what I need to get better at," Papenhuyzen said last month. "The physios in the NRL are great but they are looking after 40 other people whereas I am getting a two-hour session twice a day and it's one-on-one.

"Bill taks a lot about 'this is who you were before your injury and this is what we have to do to get you back there'. With Papenhuyzen sidelined, Nick Meaney is expected to slot into the No.1 jersey for Craig Bellamy's side to begin the home and away season.

Storm facing several injury headaches before new season

Papenhuyzen's absence represents a telling blow for Bellamy's team, with the speedster making himself a key cog in the side after the retirements of Storm legends Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. With the losses of Felise Kaufusi (Dolphins), Brandon Smith (Roosters) and the Bromwich brothers Jesse and Kenny (both Dolphins) in the off-season, Papenhuyzen's return will be even more crucial to the Storm's hopes of playing finals footy in 2023.

Seen here, Storm centre Justin Olam in a pre-season match against the Roosters.
Storm centre Justin Olam suffered a fractured forearm in a pre-season match against the Roosters. Pic: Getty (Kelly Defina via Getty Images)

Melbourne Storm will also be without destructive centre Justin Olam for the opening rounds of the new season after the Papua New Guinea international suffered a fractured forearm in a trial match against the Roosters. Olam is likely to be out for another five weeks, with fellow centre George Jennings also unlikely to return until round four due to an ACL rupture suffered last season.

Marion Seve is also in doubt for the start of the season with a knee injury. It is likely to leave Grant Anderson starting the season at centre, with rookie Jack Howarth another option to debut. The Storm will open their 2023 season with a tough away trip to face the Parramatta Eels on March 2.

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