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'We go again': Papenhuyzen responds after horrific injury as star goes under knife on fractured ankle

9th September, 2023
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9th September, 2023
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Ryan Papenhuyzen has delivered a simple but powerful message after suffering a fractured right ankle in Friday’s 26-0 qualifying final loss to Brisbane, posting on social media to tell fans: ‘We go again. Love ya’.

Papi posted from hospital several hours after the incident, which occurred in just his fourth game back following a similarly horrific injury, a broken patella, that kept him out of the game for over a year.

The Storm announced that he had undergone surgery on the ankle on Saturday morning, with GM of Football Frank Ponissi suggesting that he could be back in the new year.

“We’re obviously devastated for Ryan suffering another setback after spending a significant time away from the game after injuring his knee last year,” he said.

“He’s worked extremely hard to get back to the NRL over that time and left no stone unturned in his recovery.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 31: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm passes the ball during the round 27 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on August 31, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ryan Papenhuyzen. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“We know that he is the ultimate professional on and off the field and this is just another challenge that he will take on with both hands.

“His surgery went well this morning and, at this stage, we expect him to be back training in the new year but for now we’re focused on ensuring he is getting the right care.”

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Other players have rallied around the fullback, with Broncos counterpart Reece Walsh posting a photo of Papenhuyzen with the caption “man footy sucks sometimes, sending my love mate”.

Teammate Cameron Munster told Nine: “I feel sorry for him. I probably saw the ankle out of the socket. It is sad news for him and the club … it is a bad injury run for him but hopefully he’ll come back and we will see the Pappy that we know. We are fully behind him and I will make sure he is right tonight.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Ryan Papenhuyzen of the Storm is attended to by a team trainer after an ankle injury during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on September 08, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Ryan Papenhuyzen after suffering his ankle injury against Brisbane. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It was immediately obvious to viewers that his injury was a bad one. With just seven minutes remaining at Suncorp Stadium, he keeled over after a tackle on Brisbane prop Tom Flegler.

It appeared teammate Nelson Asofa-Solomona caused the damage when he slid low to bring down Flegler but his giant torso swung around and took out Papenhuyzen.

He was diagnosed with a compound fracture of his right ankle and will again go through a lengthy rehabilitation period before restarting his career again next year. 

“He already suffered a significant knee injury. Terrible scenes for Ryan Papenhuyzen and the Melbourne Storm. Craig Bellamy, you see how distraught he was in the coach’s box. It was just awful,” former teammate Cameron Smith said on Nine.

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BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Storm players reacts after a Broncos try during the NRL Qualifying Final match between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm at Suncorp Stadium on September 08, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Melbourne look shellshocked during their qualifying final loss to Brisbane. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The 2020 Clive Churchill Medal winner was in his third NRL game back from more than a year out with a badly fractured kneecap. 

“He was in a whole heap of pain … it’s not great. I couldn’t imagine how he’s feeling at the moment. The amount of work he’s put in to get back into playing again and to get back in the NRL team. It wasn’t a great night anyway and it just made it a lot worse,” Bellamy said.

“It was a disappointing result but seeing what happened to Paps is a real downer for us.”

The veteran coach looked visibly rattled by the Papenhuyzen incident in his post-match media conference.

After returning in the Queensland Cup with the Sunshine Coast Falcons, Papenhuyzen came off the bench in his comeback to the NRL and then got through the full 80 minutes in the final round of the season before he was again used from the interchange in the qualifying final.

Play was held up for more than 10 minutes as Melbourne medicos treated his injury and Papenhuyzen was in tears while making use of the dreaded green whistle as he was given a rousing applause from the Suncorp Stadium crowd when he was taken from the field in the medicab. 

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The Storm were trailing 20-0 at the time and Brisbane went on to complete their dominance with a try to Selwyn Cobbo soon afterwards as they advance to a preliminary final at the same venue in week three of the playoffs.

Melbourne will play the winner of Saturday night’s Sharks vs Roosters elimination final next weekend at AAMI Park. 

Coach Craig Bellamy already had three players taken from the field in a horror five-minute stretch.

Maroons winger Xavier Coates limped off with a suspected serious ankle injury plus Trent Loeiro and Marion Seve will need to pass the concussion protocols after a sickening head clash. 

Bellamy said Justin Olam and Reimis Smith were the leading contenders to come in for Papenhuyzen and Coates.

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