Storm Superstar The Face Of NSW Greyhound Racing

When Melbourne Storm superstar Ryan Papenhuyzen was recently asked to be the face of NSW greyhound racing it needed no extravagant sales pitch.

Adam Dobbin

19 August 2021

When Melbourne Storm superstar Ryan Papenhuyzen was recently asked to be the face of NSW greyhound racing it needed no extravagant sales pitch.

For the reigning Clive Churchill medalist the decision was easy – the chance to be actively involved in the promotion of an industry for which he enjoys a great passion for.

“For me this is a lot more than just throwing your name behind something and that’s where it ends,” Papenhuyzen said.

“I’ve been involved in the industry as an owner and have a real passion for greyhound racing. And to now be in a position to help promote the sport is something I’m really looking forward to.

“Racing a greyhound can generate a lot of fun and excitement for people without breaking the bank. That’s what I’m excited about getting out there through this partnership.”

Papenhuyzen’s ambassadorship with GRNSW isn’t the only time the 23-year-old has recently put pen to paper, the ink still fresh on his recent three-year contract extension with the Storm.

And while the new role will see Papenhuyzen be the flagbearer for the world’s richest race – the TAB Million Dollar Chase – he will also headline the industry’s Greyhounds As Pets rehoming program.

“I’m really excited about the association with Greyhounds As Pets,” Papenhuyzen said.

“In the last few years I raced a greyhound called Gary’s Gift and while he gave us some great times racing, ensuring he found a loving home in retirement was very important.

“And that’s the message I want to get out there – just what fantastic pets a greyhound can make.”

Like a slate of major events in NSW, the 2021 Million Dollar Chase has fallen victim to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and will instead be staged twice in 2022.

Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen with greyhound Zozzi at Noosa. Picture Lachie MillardIt’s a race the Storm premiership hero has followed enthusiastically since its inception in 2018.

“I was actually at Wentworth Park the first year it was won by Mystic Riot,” Papenhuyzen recalled.

“I remember her trainer Peter Lagogiane running down the straight beaming with excitement. That’s the kind of joy the sport can bring.

“And who knows, with the race being rescheduled to next year I might even have a runner in it by then.

“A few of the other boys in the team have told me they’re keen to get involved as well so I’m on the lookout for one. The right one.”

Tonight on the Gold Coast, Papenhuyzen ramps up his return from a horrific round-10 concussion when the Storm chase a remarkable 19th straight victory against the Titans.

It will be Papenhuyzen’s fifth game back but unlike his first four off the bench, he returns tonight to the starting line-up donning the coveted number one jumper.

“It was always the plan to get a feel for things off the bench for a few weeks,” Papenhuyzen said.

“It was important to get some confidence and conditioning back and get used to contact again. Returning from a concussion is totally different to say a shoulder or knee injury because there is no set return date – it’s very fluid and different for everyone.

“And there were some dark times there with headaches and not being yourself and it dragged on for longer than I expected but it just shows there is no timetable with concussions.

“Before I went out I’d say I was playing as good as I ever have. So now with a few games under my belt I’m looking forward to starting again and working towards getting back to that form.”