We might not have expected him to feature in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW at this time of year, but Te Maire Martin will be key to the Panthers’ hopes if he is unable to return to the top grade.
The Panthers, who will rely on other results to sneak into the top eight this weekend, started the year with their highly-anticipated signing; Martin had previously been a star for the Wests Tigers in their Holden Cup line-up. The 20-year-old didn’t disappoint, hitting the ground running with a double in his club and competition debut. He backed it up a week later with another strong performance and was thrust into the NRL spotlight in Round 3 – even earlier than many had expected.
From there, the broader Rugby League community sat up and took notice; a try on his NRL debut was likely to be the highlight of the encounter, until responsibility fell on the rookie’s shoulders to slot the winning field goal over the Brisbane Broncos. Martin made no mistake and immediately became a star at the foot of the mountains.
Martin would go on to be selected for the following five NRL fixtures and continued to impress, particularly with his mesmerising agility in broken play. In Round 8 against the Sharks, however, the Junior Kiwi went down with a fractured shoulder, and it was initially feared that an already stellar season had come to a premature end.
The injury healed quicker than expected, however, and the exciting five-eighth made an early return in Round 21 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. In what was thought to be a temporary stopover on the way to the NRL, Martin’s Panthers narrowly went down to the Jets – but with fellow star rookie Nathan Cleary already making his name in the halves at the top grade, there was no longer a vacancy and Martin has been held in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ever since.
Unfortunately for the former Tiger, Martin’s return has coincided with four narrow defeats at a crucial point in the season. With Penrith certain to feature in NRL finals this year, we may yet get another glimpse of Te Maire regardless. The only way is up for this exciting youngster, who is a near-guaranteed NRL star of the future.
Witness history this September at the 2016 NSWRL Grand Final Day. On Sunday, 25 September the Intrust Super Premiership NSW decider, along with the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield Grand Finals, take place at Pirtek Stadium, with tickets just $10 for adults and kids under 12 free. Click here to secure your seat.