The Melbourne Storm have confirmed that star fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen will miss between the opening six and eight rounds of the NRL season.

Papenhuyzen himself admitted a number of weeks ago upon his return from a trip to the United States of America where he spent two weeks working on his knee, which was shattered at the back end of last year, with renowned physiotherapist Bill Knowles that he was not going to rush back.

"I had a disrupted pre-season last year injuring a few ligaments in my ankle after the new year then I came back and got injured and then I came back and got injured again so what you realise is you need a good training block – you don't just come back when you're ready to come back, you come back when you're ready to perform," Papenhuyzen said.

"I've said all along I haven't really thought about a date to come back."

Papenhuyzen has had a bad run with injuries and concussions over the last two seasons, only playing a combined 27 games - the Storm has won 20 of those games.

His absence is the latest backline blow for the men in purple, with Justin Olam yesterday confirmed to have fractured his forearm, which will see him miss around six weeks - meaning he too will miss at least the first month of the season.

Marion Seve - who played a number of games in the second half of last year after starting the campaign on a development deal - is also believed to be racing the clock for Round 1, and could add yet more pressure to the Storm's backline depth should he miss the season-opener, with the club setting his return date simply as TBC.

With Nick Meaney set to play fullback in place of Papenhuyzen, it also leaves a wing spot open in Craig Bellamy's side, with this weekend's second trial in Christchurch to provide more clues to the shape of Melbourne's Round 1 side after their loss to the Sydney Roosters in Geelong last weekend.

That was a clash which saw development player Sualauvi Fa'alogo star at fullback, but he is unlikely to feature early in the season, and given his contract, won't be able to inside the first ten rounds.

While Meaney will play at the back, Reimis Smith will snag one centre spot, and Xavier Coates will play on one of the wings, two positions in Melbourne's backline are wide open, being one centre and one wing spot for the opening round of the campaign.

George Jennings would have been likely for one of the spots, but the Storm have now revealed he is struggling with a medical illness which has delayed his recovery from an ACL, and he is only expected to be available by Round 4.

The two positions will then come down to a battle between Young Tonumaipea, Dean Ieremia, Grant Anderson, Jack Howarth and Will Warbrick, with the group of five to contest the positions in Seve and Olam's absence and Meaney's switch to the back.

Anderson impressed at both centre and wing after being handed a train and trial deal during the second half of the year which quickly turned into a Top 30 deal for 2023.

Howarth and Warbrick are both yet to make their debuts - Howarth was a Queensland-under 19s player last year and has been signed by the Storm on a mega five-year deal, while Warbrick switched from rugby union ahead of last year and may have made his NRL debut during the second half of the year as the Storm battled an injury crisis, if not for a number of injuries himself.

Melbourne Storm Training Session

Warbrick scored 10 tries in 14 games at QLD Cup level, while also averaging 169 metres per game and making 56 tackle breaks, as well as a line break per game on average.

The 24-year-old impressed against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday in Geelong and could come into calculations for Melbourne's season opener against the Parramatta Eels.