As second comeback looms, Papenhuyzen stays thankful for ‘self-discovery’ injuries gave him
February 4, 2024
It’s been a very long road back for Ryan Papenhuyzen… and he’s had to do it all twice. After battling to overcome a brutal shattered kneecap and get back on the park, “Pappy” faced the whole gruelling journey all over again after fracturing his ankle against the Broncos in week one of the 2023 NRL finals.
The cruel injury came less than three full matches after his much-lauded return—the whole NRL world was behind him in his recovery—and Papenhuyzen, still just 25, had to find it in him to conquer a second comeback.
For many, the struggles from round 18 in 2022 to the preseason preparations he’s going through today would have been too great. For the recovering Melbourne Storm fullback, he saw it gave him the chance to look inward.
So, he did. It led him on a journey of “massive self-discovery.”
“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned a lot how to go about injuries, I’ve learned a lot how to deal with people, how to deal with myself,” he said on Friday morning while speaking to the media.
“Yeah, there’s been a lot of book reading, a lot of psychology meetings, a lot of everything. While I’ve been out of the game physically, I think mentally I’ve grown. As a leader in the club, I feel like I’m in a good spot, to help out people in the position I was in, and guys who are coming through that feel like they need a bit of help. I feel really clear in my mind.
“I feel like if you’re clear in life, you’re going to be clear in your workplace, and you’re actually going to be able to build relationships and work with those people around you more effectively.”
It wasn’t always easy, the 25-year-old admitted, but for every towering hill he climbed in the eighteen-month trials, he found another part of him within himself he could develop and grow. Every challenge shaped as lessons for him mentally and physically as he learned more and more about himself and his life.
“While you’re doing it, it’s hard to understand,” the Melbourne superstar admitted, “but now I’ve been through that process, I can look back and to be honest, that’s genuinely helped me a lot.”
“It’s been a breeze compared to the knee,” he added.
All eyes now turn to Papenhuyzen’s second comeback, with hopes he’ll return to his dynamic self and light up the competition again—without any more injuries to derail his return. On that front, he explained: “I’ve been back in the training and really turned the corner after I got back from the States this time. I feel like I’m ready to go. I’ll probably get a trial in and round 1 is looking good.”
He shapes as a round-one pick for fullback for the Storm, though teams are pending.