Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen has been welcomed back onto the rugby league field with rapturous applause in his first game back from a long injury layoff.
Papenhuyzen played the first half of the Sunshine Coast Falcons 24-10 win against Ipswich in Saturday’s Q-Cup game at Kawana.
He was strongly involved in the action while he was on the field and kicked a sideline conversion.
On orders from the Storm he was rested for the second half after missing more than a year with a fractured kneecap.
The Storm star was mobbed by adoring fans on the field after the game and spent at least half an hour after the game signing autographs and posing for photos.
Many of his Melbourne team mates, including Harry Grant, Tui Kamikamica, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Christian Welch also flew in for the game in a strong show of support.
3,400 people turned up at Sunshine Coast Stadium to watch him play.
It’s unclear whether he will play for the Falcons this weekend or return to the Storm team.