PAPEN DON'T PREACH
RYAN Papenhuyzen reckons he’s walking around with a smile as wide as a lotto winner.
And who could blame the Storm fullback after what he achieved this year.
Forget playing representative football at the start of the year, playing first grade was barely on the radar after Papenhuyzen was relegated to the Storm’s third-best fullback option during the pre-season. He was shopped around to rivals but received little interest.
Next month he will be offcontract for 2021 and will be one of the most in-demand players in the competition.
First, though, Papenhuyzen will show off his blistering speed after being picked in Australia’s nines team to compete in the two-day World Cup tournament starting on Friday.
“There have been little moments where I have reflected on what I’ve achieved this year,” Papenhuyzen said.
“I had just told my parents I was picked in the Australian team and was just walking back to my car after getting a coffee and started smiling.
“I just had this crazy feeling out of nowhere. If someone saw me they would’ve thought I won the lotto. Every now and then I’ll have a chuckle looking at the start of the year and how it is now. I’m pretty proud.
“I didn’t know it at the time but I was getting shopped around because the club needed to find space in the cap.
“During the pre-season I was thrown a bit of everywhere because Drinky (Scott Drinkwater) and Hughesy (Jahrome Hughes) were the top fullback choices. I know I can get better.
“I’m trying to ride out the wave of this year and enjoy my footy. Now I have a few games, I want to take it to the next level.”
The 21-year-old made his NRL debut off the bench and spent the first half of the season used mainly as an impact player.
His scintillating form made it impossible for Storm coach Craig Bellamy to ignore, with Papenhuyzen starting the final six games at fullback.
The Storm’s rookie of the year had not considered selection for Australia. So much so he should be sunning himself in Bali this week instead of running out at Bankwest Stadium.
“I didn’t think I was a chance,” he said. “My mates were messaging me asking if I would be a chance but I kept telling them I would be right to come on the trip.
“When they announced the nines concept, I thought it would be such a cool thing and the Aussies would have a mad side. I don’t even know how to describe being picked.”
Papenhuyzen said he had started contract negotiations with the Storm.
From the Melbourne bench at the start of this season to the Australian Nines team, Ryan Papenhuyzen has had a fantastic year.