Fatigue put Martin in right place
Panthers debutant Te Maire Martin has revealed the real reason why he was in place - not once, but twice - to help Penrith secure its first competition points of 2016 with a 23-22 come-from-behind win against the Broncos.
Martin was only told by coach Anthony Griffin on Friday morning that he would be making his NRL debut in the Round 3 clash at Pepper Stadium, and the former Wests Tigers Holden Cup star didn't let his mentor down.
The Broncos looked to be cruising to their third straight win before Martin stepped up to justify the hype that has surrounded him since his Schoolboy days.
The Panthers five-eighth looked at ease in first-grade, slicing through the Broncos defence with his first touch, before producing two plays that will have Panthers fans talking about him all week.
Down by four, Martin finished off some incredible work from Bryce Cartwright to draw the Panthers level with 11 minutes to play.
Then, with just three minutes left on the clock, Martin did what Kerrod Holland had done nine days earlier against Penrith, coming up with the hero play on debut at the death to get his side over the line.
While the set-up for the field goal was planned, Martin admits one of the reasons he was stationed so deep was because he was simply too tired to get any flatter.
"To be honest I was falling back there because I was tired," the rookie said of his positioning for the game-winning field goal.
"Sowie [Jamie Soward] said 'if they pressure my left foot, I'm going to chuck it to you'. I saw him run out to his left foot and he chucked it my way. I sort of closed my eyes and peaked to see if it went over, and it went over.
"I wanted to celebrate but I was gasping for air. I couldn't get my breath back. I finally got it back now and I'm sort of a bit happy."
Martin knew his fitness would be challenged by the speed of the NRL, and was quick to thank his teammates for helping him battle through fatigue.
"It was tougher than I thought. I knew it was going to be tough… but I was gasping for air all the time," he said.
"Like the drop kick, I was sort of waiting to get my breath back and the ball ended up coming my way [for the try]. All I had to do was sort of put a right foot on and put the ball down. I don’t think I get the credit for that. Everyone around me makes my job easier."
According to Martin, the best part of Saturday night's win was having his family there to support him. He put their presence down to the efforts of his club, and says it's something he will forever be grateful for.
"The club helped out real good. They flew them over and got them accommodation and got them a car and all that sort of stuff," Martin said.
"You only debut once, so to have them here is a dream come true. I'm really close to my family, so I've just got to thank the club for what they've done. I'm definitely not going to forget it."