You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.

Melbourne flyer Ryan Papenhuyzen has put the NRL on notice by declaring he is unconcerned by the prospect of any second-year blues and is confident he will return an even better player than the one that terrorised opposition defences last season.

After starting 2019 as the third-string full-back at Melbourne, Papenhuyzen became a household name in a matter of weeks due to a number of eye-catching performances off the bench in Craig Bellamy's side.

So good was his form that Bellamy was forced to find a way to get Papenhuyzen into his starting side and the dynamic 21-year-old finished last season as the Storm's first-choice fullback due in part to nine tries and an impressive average of 126 running metres from 22 appearances.

Most people his age would be pretty content with that type of rookie season, but for Papenhuyzen it was a benchmark that he wanted to build on and show that his 2019 wasn't just a fluke.

So that's why as soon as the Storm were bundled out of the finals by the Roosters at the penultimate stage last year, Papenhuyzen took it upon himself to find ways to ensure his 2020 season was even better than his rookie one.

"It is something I addressed right after the season," Papenhuyzen said.

NRL Fantasy player in focus - Ryan Papenhuyzen

"Why does the second-year syndrome exist and, after talking to a few people, it (seemed it) is just people getting a bit complacent and not adding parts to their game.

"So that's what I have done this pre-season ... and it is not something I am stressed about.

"Parts I wasn’t so good at I have tried to add into my game and the stuff I was doing well last year I have tried to improve on them once again.

"I have figured out why it is that way and I have done everything I can to avoid that."

And it seems Papenhuyzen is in good hands, with Bellamy and former Storm star Billy Slater providing the Sydney-born youngster with plenty of feedback on what he needs to do if he is to forge a successful career in the No.1 Storm jersey.

Slater's consistency was perhaps the most underrated part of his game and it is something that Papenhuyzen wants to try and emulate as he builds a name for himself in the position the champion fullback made his own.

"I didn't think I could do any more video with Bill, but he has been helping me add parts to my game," Papenhuyzen said.

"(I have been working on) decision making, being a bit smarter with the footy and being a bit smarter in tight situations or vice versa when it is a bit loose and (I need to) go and attack the game a bit more.

"And I feel like a bit of a leader now as I am in a key position, so I have been working on communicating better and making sure I have a voice to lead guys around the field.

Ryan Papenhuyzen scores against the Eels in Magic Round.
Ryan Papenhuyzen scores against the Eels in Magic Round. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"He (Slater) said every year he played he would try and add a few things (to his game) and it wasn’t necessarily new things.

"You just work even harder at what you are good at and make your weapons stronger."

Papenhuyzen will get his first competitive hitout of the year when he lines up for the Storm in their final trial match of the pre-season against the Cowboys at Casey Fields in Melbourne's south-east on Saturday night.

Bellamy has named a near full-strength side for the clash and Papenhuyzen said it was a huge relief to have the pre-season winding down and the start of a new campaign in sight.

Soward's Say: 2020 Storm

"It's a good time of the year and it almost feels like Christmas," he said.

"Training (loads) drop right off, the intensity is still up there, but you can notice the difference.

"We have got Manly round one and they will be a top four side this year, so we have got to start on the front foot well (this weekend).

"We start seasons well usually and we don’t want to let Craig down, let the Storm down and let the past players down.

"We take that pretty strongly so we want to get a strong trial on Saturday so when we do come up round one we have ticked everything off."

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.