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‘I know who is afraid of who’: Slater backs Papi to show big men who’s boss

What the 80 kilogram Papenhuyzen lacks in size he makes up for with sheer courage, something that has not been lost on Slater.

“Size didn’t matter with Preston Campbell either,” Slater said. “When you have courage and toughness, size isn’t a limitation.

“People think about an 80kg fullback running into 120kg and 125kg men in the middle of the field. But I know who is more afraid of who.

“He’s so quick, his acceleration is great and his biggest attribute is his willingness to compete and his willingness to be as good as he can be. He has a great work ethic and thirst to be the best he can be.”

Catch me if you can ... Ryan Papenhuyzen

Catch me if you can … Ryan Papenhuyzen Credit:Getty

Slater has often been praised by Papenhuyzen and coach Craig Bellamy for helping fast-track the 22-year-old Sydneysider’s development, but Slater said while he often discussed the “subtleties around his game and the opposition”, Papenhuyzen deserved all the credit for his scintillating form.

Laurie Daley was on Sky Sports Radio this week when he asked Penrith coach Ivan Cleary if Papenhuyzen or Cameron Smith posed a bigger danger to the Panthers. Cleary nominated Smith, and Slater agreed.

“Ryan Papenhuyzen will hurt you and you will all know about it because the crowd will go up and roar,” Slater said. “But Cameron Smith will hurt you and you won’t even see it. He will hurt you constantly with the subtlety in and around the play the ball. Cam and Ryan hurt you in different ways.

“Speed in our game will always be a threat. And that’s one thing the Storm have, they have speed. And if you go to sleep for a split second, Josh Addo-Carr and Ryan Papenhuyzen will get through.”

Papenhuyzen’s season will not end on Sunday night with the lightweight a near certainty to be included in Brad Fittler’s NSW Blues’ train-on squad.

“He has to be in the conversation; I’ve got no doubts he is, and I know him too well to know he wouldn’t let anybody down,” Slater said.

Tedesco and Gutherson are already in Blues camp and said they were excited to see what Papenhuyzen could produce in the decider.

“He’s been so consistent, he’s played a few more games now and he’s in a good system with Melbourne,” Tedesco said. “All facets of his game have improved. We know how fast he is, but his support play has been good, his passing game, his all-round fullback play has been top-class.


“He’s got that speed – he’s got me and Gutho covered in that area. He doesn’t have the size, but that courage, which is all you need.”

Gutherson added: “We played them twice this year – he torched us once, we did a pretty good job the other time – but you can’t keep him out of the game. He’s always there and he’s never afraid to go after it.”

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