Penrith's Martin lives up to all the hype
Despite all the hype surrounding his move from the Wests Tigers to Penrith in the off-season, no one could have predicted the magnitude of Te Maire Martin's NRL debut.
Coming up against the unbeaten Broncos, the boom youngster looked right at home against the game's elite, scoring a crucial try late in the game, before slotting a field goal with three minutes left to seal Penrith's first win of the season.
Martin calmed the nerves with a line break just 11 minutes into his debut, and from there, dominated his first game in the NRL.
In all, the Panthers No.6 made 99 metres from 11 runs, scored a try to level the scores, and of course kicked the game-winning field goal in a debut performance that has Penrith fans smiling from ear to ear.
"It was sort of just a dream come true to make my debut as early as I did," Martin said after the win on Saturday night.
"Unfortunately we had a few injuries pop up. 'Hook' [Anthony Griffin] sort of said I'm ready, and with the group of boys I have around me, it made my job a bit easier."
The former Junior Kiwis representative is eager for another shot, but was circumspect when asked whether he was guaranteed a spot for the Round 4 clash with the Dragons, saying Griffin would make the call later in the week.
"That's his decision. He knows what's best for the team and if that's with me in it then I don't mind. But if I have to go back to Cup [Intrust Super Premiership], I know that I've got a lot to work on. If I get another shot I'll take it with two hands.
"I just want to work on my game. If I do get another shot then I'll be stoked, but I don't mind going back to Cup and working on my game because I know I've got a lot to work on. If the time comes then I'll be happy to take it."
While it was his attack that stole all the headlines, Martin says all the emphasis at training had been on defence; an area Griffin wanted him to work on leading into his NRL debut.
The endless tackling drills clearly worked, with the Panthers five-eighth making 25 tackles on Saturday night, and missing just two against a Brisbane side filled with attacking flair.
"I had a good talk with Hook and I really wanted to focus on my defence, and I did throughout the whole game," the NRL debutant said.
"It's been the toughest pre-season I've had and Hook's really gotten into us fitness wise and all that kind of stuff. I've enjoyed every minute of it.
"I just focussed on my defence, so it was a bonus to get the drop kick and the try. I'm over the moon to be honest."
One game into his career, Martin knows that he still has plenty to work on before he can call himself a polished first-grader.
But with players like Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace in his ear, he says there is no better place to learn than at the foot of the mountains.
"Coming here, I wanted to play with either Wallace or Soward, and to play with them both on the field at the same time is sort of a dream come true to be honest," Martin said.
"I've got a lot to work on, like game fitness. He [Soward] took a lot of control of the kicking and all that kind of stuff. He sort of made my job real easy. Having Wallace at hooker, telling me attack there, attack there [also helped].
"I weighed up my options, I really thought about it, but like I said, I wanted to play with one of them. You can't teach experience but what they do at training, I just watch and learn."