Shock update on Storm star’s injury

NRL Rd 11 -  Storm v Eels
Cameron Munster could make an early return from injury for the Storm. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Storm coach Craig Bellamy says Ryan Papenhuyzen’s efforts at training in recent weeks made it an easy choice to come straight back into the side without any games in reserve grade, with the ladder leaders now hopeful of getting another superstar back earlier than expected after Cameron Munster was spotted at training.

The luckless Papenhuyzen hasn’t played since he suffered a small fracture to the same ankle he injured last year, with the flashy fullback set to return against the Dolphins in what will be his first game since round 9.

Sua Fa’alogo has done an excellent job filling in at the back and was outstanding in the comeback win over the Warriors last week, but he’ll shift to the wing with Papenhuyzen looking to add to his seven tries from eight games in 2024.

NRL Rd 9 - Titans v Storm
Ryan Papenhuyzen returns for the Storm after yet another serious injury. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

“He’s been really confident this week and a good addition with his talk and his leadership,” Bellamy said ahead of the top-four showdown.

“I wasn’t quite sure if he’d need a game in Queensland Cup or back here, but he was really confident about doing a good job at fullback for the 80 minutes.

“He’s been training really well for the past couple of weeks, so it wasn’t too hard a decision to put him straight back in.”

Papenhuyzen’s return is a timely boost with skipper Harry Grant away on Origin duty, and the Storm is hopeful another Queensland star could be back sooner than expected with Munster at Thursday’s session.

The elite playmaker suffered a tear in an adductor tendon at Magic Round, with the Storm announcing a month ago that he would be out for 8-10 weeks but didn’t need surgery.

NRL Rd 11 -  Storm v Eels
Cameron Munster has been out since Magic Round. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

“He is going along pretty well to what the early diagnosis was in the first place,” Bellamy revealed.

“He’s probably a little bit ahead of that, but we’re not going to push him because he’s only played four or five games this year, so we’re not going to put him back in until he’s ready.

“I think he’s progressing pretty well, so hopefully it’ll be a bit sooner rather than later that he’ll be available for selection.”

The Storm takes on a Dolphins side that will unleash Tevita Pangai Junior in what’ll be his first NRL appearance since coming back from boxing.

Melbourne was considering making a play for the powerhouse forward before master coach Wayne Bennett signed him for the rest of the season.

“He hasn’t played for a little while, so there’s not a whole heap to look at and go off,” Bellamy said.

“We know he’s a big strong guy and he’s got an offload in him and a good bump.

“At one stage we were really hoping to get him, but it didn’t happen. I’m happy that he’s got a start somewhere else and I’m sure he’ll do a good job for them.”