The Melbourne Storm have been dealt a cruel injury blow, with superstar fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen unavailable for their upcoming fixture against the Penrith Panthers.
Following their narrow loss to the Parramatta Eels in round two, the Storm will be looking to rediscover some momentum in their mouth-watering Grand Final rematch on Thursday evening.
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But on Wednesday afternoon, the Storm revealed Papenhuyzen would be unavailable for the blockbuster clash due to a neck injury sustained in last week’s game.
However, the Storm are hopeful that the 22-year-old speedster will return for their round four match against the Brisbane Broncos.
Ryan Papenhuyzen of the StormSource:Getty Images
Bench utility Nicho Hynes is expected to don the No. 1 jersey in his absence.
Papenhuyzen scored a double in Melbourne’s season opener against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, and was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for his Man of the Match performance in last year’s NRL Grand Final.
He has played 44 games for the Storm since making his NRL debut in 2019, scoring 22 tries.
Meanwhile, Penrith will be without playmaker Nathan Cleary on Thursday after the halfback suffered a head injury in last week’s match against the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Panthers young gun Matt Burton is expected to replace Cleary in the game-day 17.
“Nath’s actually really good, but he’s not playing. The system and protocols made the decision for us,” Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said on Wednesday.
“It’s quite complicated, but the system is there to protect the players. We obviously respect that. We’re disappointed he’s not playing but got full faith in Burto.”
Nathan Cleary of the PanthersSource:Getty Images
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said: “(Burton) is a very, very talented player.
“He’s had plenty of space in the papers over the pre-season and we know what a good player he is.”
Kick-off for Thursday evening’s Grand Final rematch in Penrith is scheduled for 8:05pm AEDT.
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