Craig Bellamy reckons Ryan Papenhuyzen is perfect for a role off the NSW bench in Origin but the Melbourne fullback says he's more focussed on a winning a premiership than pulling on a sky blue jersey.
Or for the next few weeks, anyway.
After a spectacular season, the 22-year-old dynamo from Kellyville was again superb for the Storm in their win over Parramatta in Brisbane on Saturday.
Given the calibre of some of the more senior names in the Melbourne team, Bellamy paid Papenhuyzen the ultimate compliment by saying post-match: "He was our best player by a mile and if he hadn't been in the team we wouldn't have won."
Papenhuyzen has been mentioned often as a potential inclusion in Brad Fittler's NSW squad, but with James Tedesco nailed down as the Blues No.1, the question is more about whether Fittler can find a spot in the 17-man match-day team.
Bellamy offered up a solution.
"He's not going to take Tedesco's place – if he's not the best player in the game, he is up there with them," Bellamy said.
"I think he'd be ideal, and that's where he started with us, on the bench. We used to put him on for 10 minutes before half time and play in the ruck … I think he would be ideal for that spot if that's what the Blues want. [If] Freddy is looking for a guy to come on and have some pace and still not shirk away from if he has to make some tackles, he's the ideal bloke."
Papenhuyzen is flattered by the talk of a first Origin call-up but said he's not directing any mental energy towards it.
"It's nice but it's a childhood dream to win a premiership," Papenhuyzen said. "I think I want to get that first and I'm pretty focused on that. I know it is cliche it's probably not what everyone wants to here but it is genuinely true. I want to win a premiership."
Papenhuyzen may face off against Tedesco in the preliminary final, should the Roosters get past Canberra.
"He's a star. Every time you come up against him you've got to be on your game. If it is him we will have to do a job…because he is an unbelievable player," he said.
The Storm tried a few options in the momentous task of filling the vacancy left by Billy Slater but Papenhuyzen has more than made the jersey his own this year.
Slater has been a big influence on the new Storm No.1.
“I’ve learned more from when he wasn’t playing," Papenhuyzen told 2GB. "Now that he’s finished up, he’s helped me a lot more. Billy is an open book. He doesn’t hold anything back. He’s a big part of what I’ve been doing so I have to credit him a lot”
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