The return of Storm fullback from injury, Ryan Papenhuyzen, is set to occur in the Queensland Cup this weekend. Scheduled to play no more than half of the match against Ipswich, Papenhuyzen can expect a play time of approximately 40 minutes. This marks his initial reappearance after a 384-day gap due to a harrowing kneecap fracture obtained during a game against the Raiders in July last year.
His participation with the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the forthcoming event has sparked a significant surge in interest amongst enthusiasts. Attendance predictions for the usually 1500-strong crowd, anticipated to multiply by two or even three times the typical numbers.
Only a short while ago, Craig Bellamy, the Head Coach of Melbourne, indicated concerns about the feasibility of Papenhuyzen playing again in any competitive capacity this football season. However, this view was countered by an elated Brad Henderson, Sunshine Coast Falcons Head Coach, who enthusiastically welcomed Papenhuyzen back to the club.
Commenting on the return of the player, Brad Henderson said, “It’s really exciting to have him back. We don’t know how many minutes he will play, but my understanding is he’ll start at fullback and we’ll throw him straight in. Paps has been tearing it up at training and is itching to go. It sounds like the timing is right. We normally get a crowd of around 1500 people for a home game, but there’s a fair chance that will now double, or potentially triple.”
Sua Fa’alogo, the regular No.1 at the Falcons, will be making way for the 25-year-old by shifting to the wing, enabling Papenhuyzen’s return to fullback. On his upcoming game, Papenhuyzen stated, “It’s a big step to be back after such a significant injury. I want to be playing NRL, so I have a little bit to go to achieve the goals I want – I’ve just got to keep doing the work.”
Meanwhile, the condition of Cronulla’s key player, Will Kennedy, is not as promising, with the player likely to be benched for the rest of the season due to a grade-two hamstring strain. Consequent to this, Connor Tracey is set to start at fullback for Saturday’s game against South Sydney in Perth.
In other news, Jaeman Salmon has finalised his terms with the Bulldogs, and Stephen Crichton will join him at the club next year. This comes after Blake Taaffe of South Sydney announced he was also headed for Belmore.