The new year has rolled over and we are soon to enter into a whole new NRL season full of triumph, disappointment, scandal, shocks, success and failure.
While Ryan Papenhuyzen is no chance of dislodging incumbent NSW Origin fullback James Tedesco, Storm coach Craig Bellamy believes he’s in the mix for a Blues call-up.
The 22-year-old’s athleticism, speed and his general toughness has made him one of Melbourne’s best this NRL season.
Ahead of their clash with the Titans at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Friday night, Bellamy said the young gun may have caught the eye of NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler who could select him for a bench role.
“I’m not quite sure he will crack the side as a fullback – the one they’ve got there is a fair player,” Bellamy said.
“Tedesco is rated by his peers as the best player in the game and I wouldn’t argue with that so it would be tough to remove James.”
Named in the Emerging Blues squad in December, Bellamy feels Papenhuyzen could offer plenty to a NSW side come Origin in November.
Bellamy said despite his relatively small size Papenhuyzen started at the Storm by coming off the bench and playing in the ruck where he proved his versatility.
“He’s a tough kid,” said Bellamy, who is a former NSW Origin coach.
“If he goes on when the other side is a bit fatigued, with his pace and footwork, he can cause some problems and defensively he won’t let you down.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Freddy (Fittler) is looking at putting him on the bench and I think he’d be a good addition.”
The Friday night match is the first NRL fixture to be played at Sunshine Coast Stadium and Bellamy said they were happy to adopt it as their home ground, with Melbourne likely off-limits for the rest of the season.
“This is our new home ground now so hopefully we can make it feel like that and make it a fortress for us,” he said.
“We had a session there on Tuesday under lights and the surface didn’t change too much with dark coming on so it should be less slippery than Melbourne – we’ll see how it goes.”