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Papenhuyzen tips Fittler to stick solid but ready if needed

Ryan Papenhuyzen expects NSW coach Brad Fittler to keep a winning team intact for Wednesday's State of Origin decider but is fit and ready if called upon.

The electric Storm fullback confirmed he's recovered from the calf injury he suffered in Melbourne's grand final victory and can now sprint at top speed without worrying.

The 22-year-old has been touted for a debut off the bench against the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium with Fittler, who used an all-forward interchange in game two's win, still weighing his options.

Fittler said on Thursday he was considering a utility after Queensland copped a heavy blow in Sydney when five-eighth Cameron Munster was ruled out with a head knock in the opening stages.

Blues newbie Nathan Brown could be the casualty if Fittler makes a tweak given he only played 17 minutes – albeit making an impact with his aggression – last start.

Papenhuyzen breaks through

But Papenhuyzen isn't getting his hopes of playing up.

"I think [Fittler] would keep the same side – I don't know why he wouldn't, really. They played awesome last game and I'm just happy to be named in the squad," he said.

However, Fittler said on Saturday he hadn't reached a decision.

"[We're] just waiting as long as we can," the two-time series-winning mentor said.

"We'll have a look at [Queensland's] team and just see what we think will work on the night. It's hard, we're just giving ourselves as much time as possible."

Papenhuyzen claims Clive Churchill Medal

Fittler described Papenhuyzen as a "threat" but mentioned fellow uncapped player Cameron McInnes, who can cover hooker and lock, and Brown among his options.

Papenhuyzen may not have been on the field last Wednesday, but he still contributed to the win by providing his thoughts on the contest from the ANZ Stadium coach's box.

"Just analysing, just saying my part. Watching it is a little bit hard sometimes, but the way the boys played made it a lot easier," Papenhuyzen said.

"There was about four of us up there and we all got asked about what we thought, certain moments in the game. It's good, the coaches are willing to learn through us too."

If he is chosen to debut, the Kellyville Bushrangers junior will use his previous experience as a bench dynamo for Melbourne. He started his NRL career in that role last year.

"I've sort of been asked about that when I first came in the squad. They asked me questions about what I did. I'd say it would be pretty similar," he said.

"Just whatever the team needs of me I [will do]. We've got plenty of good ball-playing ruck forwards, so I think [I'd] just try and cause some havoc."

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And tackling in the middle shouldn't be an issue.

"I've obviously done a little bit when I first started out and Melbourne pre-seasons get you ready for lots of defence. I think it'd be sweet," he said.

Helping the Blues clinch their third consecutive series win would cap off a watershed season for the Clive Churchill medallist, who hasn't quite processed his achievements.

"I'll probably reflect on [the premiership] more once this is all over. I sort of just came straight into the [Origin] camp and didn't really get to reflect on it," he said.

"I've got a long break, I don't think I'm back until mid-January."

 

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