Injured fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen is back on deck with the Storm, following a ‘refreshing’ rehab program in the United States.
The 24-year-old flew over to Philadelphia recently to work with world-renowned rehab specialist Bill Knowles, with the Melbourne superstar in the midst of a lengthy recovery from a serious knee injury.
Latrell Mitchell attended the same program last year and returned to his best football in the back-half of the season, while Manly star Tom Trbojevic is currently over there working on his hamstring issues.
Papenhuyzen has returned in time for the Storm’s week-long training camp in Geelong, with the NRL season less than six weeks away and preparations in full-swing for the club.
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Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Papenhuyzen opened up on his experiences and what he is looking to bring back to the playing group at Melbourne.
“It’s been good – I obviously copped a lot of stick from the boys thinking I went on a holiday for two weeks,” he said.
“It’s good to be back and put some of the things in place that I learnt overseas. I can get my work done early and go and help with team stuff as well.
“The number one experience I would share from over there – it’s probably just the whole trip in general and how refreshed I was. I think it’s just a different mindset around thinking about my injury and I guess going through rehab, that’s something I can take back to the group.
“I know Liam our physio learnt a lot over there and we’ve got some guys in rehab at the moment that have been there for a while and don’t think they are where they should be.
“Hopefully I can share my experiences of what Bill taught – touch wood nobody gets a bad injury this year, but hopefully I can offer my help in that way, because I’ve got the resources to do that now.”
Papenhuyzen suffered a fractured patella in Round 18 last year following a nasty collision with Jack Wighton, ending his 2022 campaign and ruling him out of the finals series.
During his time in the US, Papenhuyzen was training alongside injured San Francisco 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who is currently sidelined following an ACL injury while his side is one game away from the Super Bowl.
“The impressive thing about him was he would rock up to training and be in a good mood, but his team is playing in the playoffs and he is actually missing out in that,” Papenhuyzen said.
“To see him so happy and willing to learn about rugby league, he was asking where he could watch it and asking about the timezones. He was impressive and he was in there most days that I was.
“Bo Byram from the Colorado Avalanche as well, super impressive – same thing, just a good dude.
“It was a good experience to train alongside them, the common goal was to come back and play in their sport at a high level and I think that was cool to share with them.
“They were going through a tough patch as well and can relate, but you also see each other working hard and take things from what they do and make sure we do the best we can.”
When will Ryan Papenhuyzen return from injury?
Papenhuyzen is unlikely to return early in the season, with no specific date set for the fullback to throw on the purple jersey once again.
The former Clive Churchill Medal winner explained the process ahead of him, but was adamant he will line up for the Storm at some stage in 2023.
“Until they sort out this CBA, I don’t know – nah just kidding…it’s hard to tell, the closest answer I can give is at some point this year,” he said.
“I’m not sure when – we’ve got a pretty important six-week block coming up now to put everything in place that I learnt at Knowles Athletic.
“I probably still won’t have an answer after those six weeks, but some point at this year is probably an accurate answer – sorry for all the fantasy managers out there.
“[I will be doing] a lot of gym work, a lot of new exercises too which gives me a little bit more variety.
“Lower leg sessions are great, I feel a lot more confident and a lot more positive about the way forward. Upper body, I’m getting a bit more time to work on that as well.
“There’s still a long way to go before I’m back where I need to be. I’m just taking small steps and hopefully that’s going to contribute to me getting back at some point.”