Bellamy wants NRL start for Papenhuyzen

Ryan Papenhuyzen (2L) is on the verge of forcing his way into Melbourne's NRL starting line-up.
Ryan Papenhuyzen (2L) is on the verge of forcing his way into Melbourne's NRL starting line-up.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is prepared to shuffle his troops to try to get match-winner Ryan Papenhuyzen into the line-up ahead of the NRL finals.

Bellamy made some late changes to his side on Sunday to face Gold Coast, starting Papenhuyzen at fullback with Jahrome Hughes shifting to halfback in place of Brodie Croft, who was left out.

While Croft had worn the No.7 jersey for much of the season, Bellamy said he was experimenting with ways to give the electric Papenhuyzen more game time.

The 21-year-old has scored six tries in 17 appearances this season since his NRL debut and is a major attacking weapon for the Storm, with his blistering speed off the mark and ability to find a hole in the defence.

He helped to turn the game for Melbourne to secure a 24-8 win with a try three minutes into the second half, while he ran a game-high 240 metres, almost 100 more than the next best on the field.

Bellamy said he felt the positional changes worked well and would give him something to think about as the finals neared.

"Paps (Papenhuyzen) threatened to poke his nose through there a couple of times," Bellamy said.

"It was obviously a different thing for us and it's obviously a reasonably big change, but we thought we wanted to have a look at it."

He said it had been difficult to keep Papenhuyzen out of the starting side, given his obvious talent, but Croft had also been a consistent performer.

"It wasn't easy leaving Brodie out today, but I don't think it will hurt him, as he's played every game this year and he's still only young," he said.

"We'll have a look at the game and decide where we want to go in the next couple of weeks.

"With Paps, it has been hard to leave him out on a few occasions."

Australian Associated Press