It's the perfect partnership - Melbourne Storm and NSW State of Origin superstar Ryan Papenhuyzen, one of the game's quickest players, and the fastest sport on four legs, greyhound racing.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) announced on Thursday, August 19 that Papenhuyzen has joined the organisation in an ambassadorial role to promote both the racing side of the industry, and rehoming through the Greyhounds As Pets program.
Papenhuyzen, who has not only owned racing dogs, but also played a role in rehoming, said the partnership is so much more than simply putting his name to a product, he has a real love for the sport.
"For me, a partnership with GRNSW is a really great fit," Papenhuyzen said.
"Greyhound racing is a sport I love and know very well, and I have actually been a participant, through ownership of a few racing dogs.
"My mates and I have always loved following the dogs, and I know that's the case for a lot of footy fans. There is a real parallel between the two sports, and that's another reason why I think this partnership is perfect for me."
GRNSW Chief Executive Officer Tony Mestrov was excited to welcome Papenhuyzen, particularly as he is someone who has experienced the industry as a participant.
"To have someone like Ryan join GRNSW in this role is a real coup for us," Mestrov said.
"Not only is he one of the most exciting sportsmen on the Eastern seaboard, he has a real affinity with greyhound racing, and we look forward to working with him during our major racing events such as the TAB Million Dollar Chase next year.
"But what impressed me most, was his genuine passion for the breed, and like the team at GRNSW he realises the importance of welfare for our dogs."
Papenhuyzen was due to be the face of the TAB Million Dollar Chase, which was scheduled to be run during August and September, but last week GRNSW announced the event would not go ahead in 2021.
"I know like so many major events in 2021, GRNSW were forced to postpone their showcase race, the Million Dollar Chase until next year, but already I'm excited about the opportunity to be involved with promoting the event when it comes around in April (2022)," Papenhuyzen said.
"It's an event that has captured the imagination of the sport, and attracted a new younger crowd, and putting my participant's hat on for a moment, like everyone I'd love to have a dog good enough one day to have a shot at winning the world's richest greyhound race.
"But what also impresses me about this partnership is my association with Greyhounds As Pets (GAP).
"While GRNSW has been doing some outstanding work raising the stature of the sport with their feature races and everything they do on the racetrack, I think it's also important the work they have done in recent years on the welfare front, particularly with rehoming through Greyhounds As Pets.
"While I got a lot of enjoyment racing my greyhound Gary's Gift, and celebrating each of his wins, what truly made me happy was seeing him find a loving home when his racing days were over.
"Seeing those sorts of outcomes was as satisfying as winning any race, and I am keen to work with GAP and promote the work they do, so that more people can experience what wonderful animals and pets greyhounds are."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.