Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy says Ryan Papenhuyzen is closing in on James Tedesco as the game’s best fullback.
Papenhuyzen last night put on an NRL masterclass against the Broncos, scoring four first-half tries in the space of 11 minutes as the Storm went on to win 40-6 at AAMI Park.
The 22-year-old scored tries in the 25th, 29th, 34th, and 36th minutes, all of which came off support play. He converted all four efforts off his own boot.
Bellamy was asked after the match if his side is now in possession of the best fullback in the game, which the Storm coach admitted could soon be the case with Papenhuyzen “getting closer” to Tedesco.
“Different people have different opinions,” he told reporters after the match.
“I think James Tedesco has been the best fullback in the game for a bit, for the last couple of years.
“What I would say is, Paps is getting closer to him.
“There’s a lot of other good fullbacks too, obviously Tom Trbojevic at Manly. Like I say, a lot of teams have got good fullbacks.
“At the moment, we wouldn’t swap him for anyone without a doubt.
“As I said I think James has been the best fullback or a bit, but we wouldn’t swap Paps.”
Ryan Papenhuyzen scores try No.4 in just the first-half
Papenhuyzen’s stock and hype in the game has been rising ever since he took over the Storm’s No.1 jersey following the retirement of club legend Billy Slater.
He scored 11 tries last season, while also taking out the Clive Churchill Medal for his Man of the Match performance in last year’s grand final win over Penrith.
The Storm young gun was rewarded with a spot in Blues coach Brad Fittler’s extended squad last year but failed to take to the field with Tedesco, who’s widely considered to be the best fullback in the game, retaining the No.1 duties for the Blues.