Wests Tigers under-20s star Te Maire Martin is bound for Penrith next season.

Te Maire Martin's Nines balancing act

His ball-playing ability will be on show this weekend but new Panthers young gun Te Maire Martin says his focus will be on sticking solid in defence at the 2016 Downer NRL Auckland Nines.

A superstar within the Wests Tigers' NYC squad last season when it came to try assists (35 in 24 games), Martin is excited to get his first taste of the world of the NRL via the Nines and is keen to ensure his defence is up to scratch. 

"[Defence] is something I have really thought about and really put a lot of effort into over the pre-season. I'm not sure how it's going to go," Martin told NRL.com. 

"I have made sure to have a few of the bigger boys like Moses Leota running at me every training session, so we'll soon see what happens once we're out there.

"I'm excited, nervous and there's a few different emotions running around but I'm definitely excited more than anything to get out there and get my hands on the ball. I just want to get out there, I can't wait to play."

Martin's biggest test looms on Sunday morning when the Panthers play the reigning NRL premiers the Cowboys.

North Queensland possess arguably the strongest squad out of any in the tournament, and Martin admits his defence will be put to the test. 

"It's going to be freaky because you're going to be tired all the time and there is going to be some fast people that we're up against," Martin said. 

"No doubt there will be some big boys playing too, especially with the Cowboys. They have [Jason] Taumalolo and other speedsters like Michael Morgan so it'll be a good test and one we'll be up for."

Buoyed by the faith shown in him by Penrith coach Anthony Griffin to lead the Panthers around this weekend, Martin is taking things in his stride. 

"It's sort of like a test for us with Hook," he said.

"He obviously wants to see how we go and I feel like, even though we have only had one training session for the Nines, that we should do a pretty good job over the weekend."

Official 2016 Downer NRL Auckland Nines squads
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