Papenhuyzen puts hand up as Storm fullback

Ryan Papenhuyzen has scored three tries in his past three games for Melbourne Storm.
Ryan Papenhuyzen has scored three tries in his past three games for Melbourne Storm.

Fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has given Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy plenty to think about after a dazzling display in the Storm's last ditch win over the Wests Tigers.

While the home side escaped with a 24-22 win thanks to a 77th-minute try by Will Chambers, Papenhuyzen starred in his first NRL start.

Replacing the injured Jahrome Hughes in the No.1 jersey, he ran a game-high 241m which included a brilliant 80m solo effort when he returned a kick and burst through the defence.

While he has speed to burn, Papenhuyzen also didn't shirk the tough stuff and was happy to carry through the middle and man up in the first line of defence.

Following the retirement of Billy Slater, Papenhuyzen started the season behind first-choice custodian Scott Drinkwater, who has been sidelined since the trials with a pec injury, and then Hughes with concussion.

But the 20-year-old may find himself elevated from third string to top dog after scoring three tries in his past three games.

He earned the praise of Bellamy for his performance.

"I thought he did a great job," the coach said.

"A slow game like that probably didn't suit him but he obviously made an impression and came up with some really important plays.

"He did a really good job with the two wingers as well."

Bellamy had warned the youngster he would be in for a tougher night than during their Magic Round romp against Parramatta, when he blitzed off the bench.

And he was pleased with how he handled the challenge.

"Everything went right for him last week and we knew it wouldn't against the Tigers but he stuck at his job," Bellamy said.

"He's played six games off the bench now and last week would have given him plenty of confidence but he's a confident kid who knows his strengths and he's a hard worker so we're really happy for him."

Hughes, who has hardly put a foot wrong this season, is expected to be available for next Sunday's clash with Canterbury giving Bellamy something to ponder.

"We've got a couple of days off over the weekend so I will give it a little bit of thought," he said.

Australian Associated Press