Missed Ryan Papenhuyzen NRL act leaves fans in awe amid Craig Bellamy's surprise admission

The Melbourne Storm fullback left the NRL world in disbelief over one moment.

NRL fans were thrilled fan favourite Ryan Papenhuyzen made a successful return from another injury setback on Friday night and one remarkable moment had fans in awe. Papenhuyzen, after fracturing a bone in the right ankle he broke at the end of last year, returned for the Melbourne Storm in his team's blockbuster 30-24 win over the Dolphins on Friday night.

The Storm fullback was in electric form before his injury in the first nine rounds and he continued his try scoring form against the Dolphins in the 11th minute. Papenhuyzen was on hand to take an inside pass to burrow over the line as the Storm went 80 metres up the field in one play. This marked the 26-year-old's eighth try in nine games in 2024.

Ryan Papenhuyzen warming up and Papenhuyzen chasing Jamayne Isaako.
NRL fans were thrilled fan favourite Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured) showcase his speed and determination upon his return after injury. (Images: Getty Images/Channel Nine)

And while his try scoring record has been outstanding this season it was a moment in the second half that had fans out of their seat. With the Storm attacking the Dolphins line, player-of-the-match Jahrome Hughes put in a cross field kick.

However, winger Jamayne Isaako soared through the air and took the kick on the full and charged down field. Isaako pulled away from the two Storm chases and appeared to be home.

Although from the other side of the field Papenhuyzen stormed across the field as he made up ground. "Papenhuyzen coming across," Dane Ginane said on Channel Nine as fellow commentator Paul Vautin took notice of the fullback's chase.

Papenhuyzen incredibly got hold of Isaako and managed to make the tackle, but in the end the Dolphins winger scored an amazing 90m solo try as he fell over the line in the tackle. Isaako was exhausted after the chase as both players put in 100 per cent effort. Despite not stopping Isaako, Papenhuyzen's chase was important because it stopped the Dolphins winger from scoring under the posts.

This would have made it a six point game (at the time) and handed the Dolphins more time to level the match. And while Papenhuyzen may have scored in his return after seven weeks out, it was the stunning speed and effort shown on the chase that had NRL fans in awe.

Ryan Papenhuyzen celebrates.
Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured) celebrates a try upon his NRL return.

NRL great James Graham was full of praise for Papenhuyzen for his effort on Isaako in the second-half. “It’s Papenhuyzen’s first game back and he’s got the effort to do that. That’s difficult when you’re seasoned and match-fit and he gains ground on Isaako. For a guy that’s just returned, you can’t do that unless you’re working incredibly hard in your rehab,” Graham said on Fox Sports commentary.

“If you’ve got a lower limb injury, your fitness can go away but there’s things you can do to maintain that and get yourself ready to attack the first game of football you play. It was a magnificent play, despite not coming up with the desired outcome and result, I love that from Papenhuyzen.”

NRL Physio Brien Seeney noted the impressive turn of foot from the Storm fullback having only return from a fractured bone in his foot. Fans couldn't help but get excited for the fullback as he looks to put together a string of games towards the backend of the year for the high-flying Storm outfit.

Despite his performances, Bellamy made the admission he wasn't sure if Papenhuyzen should come straight back into the Storm team without a game to find his fitness. “To be quite honest, I wasn’t all that keen to play him in the NRL straight away, I wanted him to have a game in Queensland Cup,” Bellamy said after the Storm victory.

“But I’ve never seen him so confident to come back after an injury, he was pretty firm that he was ready to play NRL. So when your senior players and key players have got that sort of attitude, well. I was sort of hoping with 10-15 to go if we were in a good position we could give him a rest but because of the closeness of the game we never thought of taking him off.

“He was just so confident about being able to come back and play well and do his job. And there have been times in the past when he’s come back and probably hasn’t shown that kind of confidence. So I knew he was ready to go and he did a great job, that last try-saver that he made, it was pretty important that he was there.”

Ryan Papenhuyzen warming-up.
Ryan Papenhuyzen (pictured) returned in strong form for the Storm.

While all eyes were on Papenhuyzen, Hughes was sensational and continues to put his hand up in the conversation of best halfbacks in the NRL. He scored a try, provided two try assists and kicked for more than 400 metres in the absence of halves partner Cameron Munster.

While Hughes claimed he did "some dumb things" during the game, coach Craig Bellamy was full of praise. "He's always a little bit hard on himself and I don't mind that but I reckon he's had his best year in the NRL so far," Bellamy said. "He has been a real leader for us this year."