North Queensland five-eighth Te Maire Martin has capped off a rollercoaster season with selection in the New Zealand Rugby League World Cup squad named on Thursday.
Fresh off suffering grand final defeat to Melbourne, the 22-year-old can improve on his one-game record for the Kiwis with experienced five-eighth Kieran Foran withdrawing from the tournament through injury.
The former Panther was expecting to return to Townsville and get ready for a humid summer of pre-season training following a break, but will now be forced to delay his plans and head to New Zealand to prepare for the tournament.
Martin will compete with experienced utility Thomas Leuluai and Bronco Kodi Nikorima for the five-eighth spot alongside Shaun Johnson.
"It's a positive for both sides, a big experience," Martin said.
"When I went on the Four Nations tour last year I learnt a lot."
Martin's position at the Cowboys remains up in the air in 2018 with Johnathan Thurston set to return from a shoulder injury.
The combination of Martin and Michael Morgan blossomed at the backend of the season and the pair linked for the Cowboys' only four-pointer on grand final night against the Storm.
But Thurston's inclusion is inevitable, and Martin offered perspective on the situation ahead.
"My first thoughts coming up here was to learn off Johnathan Thurston, it wasn't to play first grade," he said.
"That's my thinking for next year too. I know 'Greeny' (Cowboys coach Paul Green) will play the best team he can field, whether that's with me in it or not I'm happy."
With Thurston's future up in the air beyond 2018 and retirement a strong possibility, Martin could be forced to play off the bench next season.
"It would be a new role for me and I would love to take it on," he said.
"But in saying that Benny Hampton has played that role this year and he's done a fantastic job."
The playmaker watched on as his former Intrust Super Premiership teammates at the Panthers thrashed the PNG Hunters prior to the NRL Telstra Premiership grand final on Sunday.
It was in April the Kiwi representative played in the Penrith side before gaining a release to move north and chase a first grade spot.
"They probably wouldn't have got there if I stayed," Martin said of his former side.
"I enjoyed my time at Penrith, especially in that team and in first grade – I have a lot of close mates.
"I was really excited at the start and stoked for them, and then there was the crash at the end [with the grand final loss].
"I'm still happy how the year has panned out for myself, I'll pick myself back up and work towards next year."
Martin declared himself 100 per cent fit for the tournament after shaking off a knee injury suffered in the final months of the season.