Cameron Smith insists Storm flyer Ryan Papenhuyzen will handle a starting fullback position "easily" if elevated to the run-on side against the Wests Tigers on Thursday night.
First-choice fullback Jahrome Hughes has been ruled out after suffering a concussion in the 64-10 win over Parramatta in a tackle which resulted in Eels winger Maika Sivo being charged by the match review committee.
That has opened the door for Papenhuyzen, who has played all of his five NRL matches off the bench this year, to line up in the custodian’s role after a stunning display against the Eels where he scored a try, ran for 137 metres and had three line breaks, two line break assists and two try assists in half an hour of magic.
Explosive speed off the mark was a feature of the 20-year-old's play and when he hit open space the afterburners came on to kick clear of Eels pursuers.
"We knew he was quick but that is the first time I have seen him in open space and be able to open up. He’s obviously done it for a few years in reserve grade [with Sunshine Coast in the Intrust Super Cup] but seeing it in first grade was unbelievable," Smith told NRL.com.
Every try from Round 9
"He did it when he made a couple of line breaks and even when he got out the back of some shape, burned someone and created an overlap.
"All our teammates ran across and said, 'What about Paps, what about Paps'. He is pretty good under the high ball, obviously outstanding when he gets the ball in his hands and he’s very willing in defence for a little fella.
"Hughesy is our number one fullback but I just think Paps will come in and do a great job. He will handle it easily."
Match Highlights: Storm v Eels
Another man renowned for leaving defenders in his wake, Josh Addo-Carr, has complete faith in Papenhuyzen's ability to handle a starting role.
"There is no doubt that he is going to do a job for us and I am really excited for him," the Blues flyer said.
"He has 'little man syndrome' and he was full of energy and playing out of skin like everyone (against the Eels).
"It's good to see that all his hard work has been paying off as he has been down here for two years now and it is good to see all these younger boys coming up and showing the coaching staff they can handle first grade."
It is not just Papenhuyzen’s speed and skill that has caught the eye of skipper Smith.
"He is a guy I have been really impressed with, just with his patience and also the effort he has put in this year," Smith said.
"He was sort of a chance earlier in the year to have a crack in that [fullback] spot and unfortunately missed out.
"He’s been 18th man several times for us and every time he has put in all week knowing that it is not likely he is going to play, but he has helped the team the best he could on game night for NRL, and then flown to Queensland to play in the Queensland Cup. He has shown great persistence."
One of the only negatives to come out of the Storm's dominant win over the Eels was the foot injury to Curtis Scott, who looks set to be sidelined for three months.
Scott had made a sensational return to the Storm side with a 100-metre try before going down injured and Addo-Carr said the 21-year-old is doing it tough.
"I am really close with Curtis and he is a bit down at the moment," Addo-Carr said.
"He has a long stint on the sidelines now, but he has got to come back bigger and better and I believe he definitely will."