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No go for Nicho but his time will come, says Papenhuyzen

Amid all the excitement of a maiden premiership ring, a Clive Churchill Medal and scoring a runaway grand final try, Ryan Papenhuyzen is remembering the man who pushed him to those kinds of feats – Nicho Hynes.

Hynes cut a lonely figure on the Storm bench at ANZ Stadium on Sunday night.

He did not take the field in 80 minutes, although he stood up a few times to stretch, took off his waterproof robe, only to put it back on, and sit down again.

It was meant to be his 13th NRL game for 2020 – the unlucky connotations with that number not going unmissed.

The 24-year-old utility, who had been confined to the bench for the round-17 win over the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium, became the first player in 26 years to sit out a grand final.

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Canberra in winning the 1994 decider over the Bulldogs used only 15 players - the full 17 had been used by every winning and losing team since then until Sunday night.

"I remember doing that myself a couple of times last year, but obviously it wasn't a grand final," Papenhuyzen said on Monday.

"But I've definitely experienced that feeling of thinking you're going to get on then nto being able to go on.

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"But he's just as stoked as everyone else that we could win the premiership. A few of the boys had a word with him after that his time will come."

His time as a bench utility but also filling in for Papenhuyzen at fullback has helped keep both men on their toes.

"He's a great fullback so he definitely keeps competition up. I've got to keep improving my game to have a hold on that No.1 jersey," Papenhuyzen said.

"I can't speak any more highly of him – he's part of it (premiership) and he got a ring."

The Storm squad now splinters with some staying in Queensland for a holiday, some returning to Melbourne and many – eight in all including Papenhuyzen – to the two Origin camps.

The Clive Churchill Medallist doesn't know when he will be home in Victoria to hang his medal in the new apartment he recently kind of moved into, in inner-city Richmond.

"By the time I get back there I reckon it will be 12 months – well actually I've never been there yet," he said.

"It's crazy how this year has gone. I'll probably head back to Sydney and see the family first [post-Origin series] and then get back to Melbourne just before pre-season, which looks like being the start of next year."

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He is relishing the prospect of linking up again with a fellow Clive Churchill Medal winner in Roosters star Luke Keary.

"We went to the same school, grew up in the same area, and I got to see what he achieved. I sort of looked up to him as it made it possible to think that people like me could make it," Papenhyzen said.

"He was one of the people I took inspiration out of. So that was pretty cool to be able to win a premiership and the Clive like Luke had done a couple of years ago."

Papenhuyzen spoke to the media back in the Twin Waters Resort quarantine hub at Maroochydore where the players were watching a replay of the 26-20 win over the Panthers.

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He said the team still had not forgotten one of the main reasons they never gave up in 2020 despite the trying conditions of being five months away from their homes – fellow Victorians.

"It's been a massive motivation. We would get messages weekly from people saying it's what they most got excited about, or made their week, was us playing.

"It's not necessarily winning but just the way we play. Once the boys heard those message it just inspired us to keep playing that way.

"With the Vixens (netball), Richmond (AFL) and now us winning … but with us being the only NRL team in Victoria we felt as though we had the whole state behind us. We definitely felt the love."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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