Nick Meaney may not be spoken about in the same way as a plethora of Melbourne Storm superstars across the years but he has quickly become one of the club's most valuable and valued players.
The 25-year-old outside back's versatility and professionalism is again set to be of immeasurable benefit as the Storm prepare to start the 2023 NRL season without gun fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen.
The club is not putting a timeframe on Papenhuyzen's return from a fractured knee cap but he won't be playing in round one.
Storm general manager of football Frank Ponissi said Meaney, who moved from wing to fullback for the final seven games of last season after Papenhuyzen's injury, had been one of the more impressive trainers in pre-season this year.
The cool, calm and measured Meaney has fine-tuned his spine combination with hooker Harry Grant and halves Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes and is in the frame to start round one at fullback.
"There are a few options that Craig (Bellamy) could go with but I think that is the way he is leaning, mainly because of what he (meaney) has done before and the way he is training this pre-season," Ponissi told AAP.
"Being his second year at the club he will know all those three (spine) players better than he did last season."
Ponissi and the Storm brains trust had their eye on Meaney while he was plying his trade at Canterbury and Newcastle.
When they knew in early June of 2021 they had lost the versatile Nicho Hynes to the Sharks for the 2022 season, the Storm swooped and announced the signing of Meaney three weeks later.
Meaney recently signed a contract extension until the end of 2024, signalling how highly he is regarded
"He is a completely different player to Nicho but he does have Nicho's versatility and he has proven that," Ponissi said.
"He has played fullback, wing and five-eighth and can play centre.
"We are just pleased that Nick has lived up to our expectations. There are many parts of his game that we liked and where we thought he could add something for us and he has done that."