Martin reflects on 'crazy' season
Te Maire Martin has benefited hugely from his mid-season move to the North Queensland Cowboys, but he believes his former Intrust Super Premiership side Penrith have benefited even more, humbly declaring that they might not have made the grand final if he still played for them.
The Penrith Panthers won the Intrust Super Premiership last weekend, defeating the Wyong Roos 20-12 at Leichhardt Oval.
It is a team Martin knows well, playing halfback for the reserve-graders on plenty of occasions after falling out of favour with first-grade coach Anthony Griffin.
When Martin signed with the Cowboys in June Darren Nicholls took over in his position, guiding Penrith to an unexpected premiership.
But Martin has had success of his own since the move, having a huge hand in North Queensland's run to the NRL Grand Final.
His best performance in a Cowboys jersey came in his side's 29-16 preliminary final win over the Sydney Roosters, with Martin scoring a try in the historic victory.
Asked to reflect on his journey from reserve grade to an NRL decider, Martin remained modest, voicing his gratitude towards the Cowboys.
"I'm not too sure [where I'd be if I hadn't come here]. I'd probably be in the ISP Grand Final with the Penrith boys but I'm not too sure if I was in there they might not have got that far," Martin said.
"It's been crazy how the year has turned out and I'm really grateful to get the opportunity to come up to the Cowboys and it's super special... and now I'm playing in an NRL grand final."
The incredible form of Cowboys halfback Michael Morgan has helped Martin's career resurgence, with Morgan currently playing so well that Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk has labelled him the game's best No.7.
Martin has been in awe, learning off Morgan on and off the field to create a halves combination that might just win the competition.
"He's a crazy player, I know just playing alongside him how calm and composed he is. It's crazy how well he leads our pack and our whole team around the field," Martin said.
"I know if he plays the way he can, he can definitely do the job against Melbourne.
"It's not going to be an easy game, both teams will complete high and I know 'Morgo' will do his best to try and make that happen."
It will need to be North Queensland's best team performance of the season if they were to defeat the high-flying Storm on Sunday, but it can be done.
The Cowboys will be expecting more of the same from Scott Bolton, with the North Queensland prop averaging over 130 run metres and 31 tackles per game.
The workhorse No.10 has been the backbone of North Queensland's year, but he was quick to turn the attention of his performances, instead praising the impact Martin has had on the squad since his arrival in Townsville.
"[He's been] unbelievable and a handy buy for us as well. We're stoked to have him here and we've needed him especially without 'Johnno' (Johnathan Thurston)," Bolton said.
"I'm sure he'll be able to do it again [on Sunday], like he's been doing it for us in every game.
"He's another attacking option and he's a strong runner of the ball so he'll be there and I'm sure he'll do a job like the other guys on the field."