Ryan Papenhuyzen has revealed the hurt born from rejection and two painful finals losses driving his quest for a premiership with the Storm.
The 22-year-old Melbourne fullback is one of the form players of the competition and is fresh from a man-of-the-match display in the 36-24 qualifying final win over the Eels where he scored two tries, had two-line break assists and ran for 265 metres.
He was overlooked by Parramatta for being too small when he was in their junior system with Kellyville Bushrangers and Hills District Bulls and has twice burned the Eels, with last year's sizzling cameo off the bench in the 64-10 win at Suncorp Stadium announcing him as a player of rare speed and talents.
Last year's qualifying final and preliminary final losses to the Raders and Roosters respectively cut Papenhuyzen deep and he will play the winner of this week's sudden-death final between those two clubs on Friday week for the right to be in the grand final.
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"I played my junior footy around the Eels rep stuff and didn’t really get my shot so there is always a bit of feeling when I come up against Parra," Papenhuyzen said.
“Every game I want to go out and put in my best performance but there is always that little bit of want against Parra because I was a junior there and made my way down to Melbourne. I think that is just human nature.
"It is exciting being in a prelim and there is a bit of hurt from last year so we want to take that extra step.
"It will be a massive game. Obviously we have had a couple of really good battles with the Roosters and Canberra as well so whoever it is we will prepare for that and hopefully have a good performance against them… but there is always hurt from the teams you lose against in finals."
Coach Craig Bellamy said after the win on Saturday night that the Storm would not have prevailed if not for the performance of Papenhuyzen, and in a warning to the rest of the competition he said the best was yet to come.
"It’s great that kid just wants to be involved. I have no doubt he can still improve his game the more he learns," Bellamy said.
"He puts himself in the picture and has got the pace to make a half chance into a full chance.
"He’s a tough little rooster as well and we love having him in the team."
No Pap, no win, says forthright Bellamy
Papenhuyzen said he was up to the challenge of taking his game to even greater heights.
"I am happy with my performances every now and then but there is always room to improve, probably defensively and in my attack as well," he said.
If he can do that then there seems no doubt Papenhuyzen will be named in Brad Fittler's NSW squad for the upcoming State of Origin series.
Bellamy said Papnhuyzen would be "ideal" off the bench for NSW, but the Storm flyer has another item on his immediate agenda he wants to address.
"It is everyone’s dream to win a premiership but if you think too far ahead you don’t think about the games coming up and I think that is really important to think about that," Papenhuyzen said.
"I am just happy to be in the [Origin] chat. Whatever comes after that happens but right now I am pretty focused on the premiership.
“I don’t think there is any bigger accolade than winning the premiership, particularly after the tough year we’ve had."