Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen got away from Wests Tigers


“We heard Teddy was going to stay, that he was locked in at the Tigers,” Papenhuyzen said.

“So I was going to be behind Teddy, or go to Melbourne and be behind Biully.

“Financially the deals with the Tigers and Melbourne were similar. But if I wanted longevity, the place to go was Melbourne.

“I was also having hamstring problems at the time and the Storm mapped out what I could do to overcome it. I was impressed by that. They sent me off to a few people before I even got down there. I ended up doing some work with their speed coach Adam Basil, who raced at the Olympics, and he worked on my glutes, technique, stuff like that.

“It all made the decision easier.”

Papaenhuyzen was the Curtis Scott look-a-like who showed tremendous speed and slick hands to set up tries for Cameron Munster and Josh Addo-Carr in the second half against the Eels on Saturday night.

He put the foot down and split Mitchell Moses and Brad Takairangi for his own try as the Eels pair could only shake their heads in disbelief.

The previous week the 20-year-old was injected into the game late against Cronulla and had the simple instruction to run at the tired men in the middle. He looked one of the few dangers for the visitors that night in the Sutherland Shire.

Papenhuyzen grew up in Rouse Hill, was schooled at Oakhill College in Castle Hill and played his junior footy with the Kellyville Bushrangers – the home of the new Eels $40 million academy – and the Hills Bulls.

He took a year off as a teenager before he popped up again playing with his touch football mates at the Dundas Shamrocks in the Balmain competition.

Papenhuyzen actually played touch for Australia alongside another handy fullback Kalyn Ponga. You may have heard of him.

Stars of the future: Ryan Papenhuyzen and Kalyn Ponga as junior rep players for Australia in touch football in 2015.

He played in the Balmain rep teams but dodgy hamstrings restricted his game time in the under-20s while the exposure to Jason Taylor’s first-grade Tigers team was also limited.

“As soon as I signed with Melbourne, I was laying in bed one morning when the phone rang. I was like ‘who is this’ and it was Billy,” Papenhuyzen said.

“He said, ‘Ryan, it’s Billy’, and I’m like, ‘Billy who?’, and he said, ‘Billy Slater’. I jumped out of bed and couldn’t believe it. He was the first one to call when I signed and congratulated me.

“I’ve learned more from Billy this year now he’s not playing. In the pre-season he broke down how he does video sessions for games, how he tries to manipulate defensive lines.

“He used to watch video on the five or six best fullbacks that week and look to see ‘what does he do that I can do or what can make me a better player’.”

This time last year Papenhuyzen missed two months with a shocking concussion suffered in the Queensland Cup.

If he fires at AAMI Park, it could be Tigers fans waking with the headache on Friday morning.

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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