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New position a lesson in mental toughness and timing for Martin

Playing out of position at fullback has been a lesson in mental toughness and timing for Te Maire Martin.

The talented 23-year-old spent the vast majority of the pre-season preparing for the chance to become captain Michael Morgan's halves partner at five-eighth.

But circumstances quickly changed.

"With the signing of Ben Barba, the way he was carrying himself around training was good to be around and I learnt a bit there but obviously he left and Jordie [Jordan Kahu] came in and there was another push around of positions. I'm happy just to be anywhere in the team," Martin said.

"You get a feel for when the boys start getting a bit of momentum. It hasn't come straight away but it's something I've really worked on and it's also a mental thing to try and just keep pushing through.

"You sniff around our big forwards and sooner or later they'll break a tackle or two."

Bulldogs v Cowboys - Round 7

The Cowboys returned to the winners' circle last Saturday with a gritty seven-point triumph over the Warriors in Auckland. Martin said the Cowboys showed resilience under pressure and would need to duplicate that form against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.

"We take a bit of confidence out of that game," he said.

"I thought we defended a lot better than we did in previous weeks. We really stood up when there was a few errors. Obviously two of those errors were mine.

"At the back end of that second half when we started getting a roll on, our forwards started breaking a few tackles and it got a bit easier. But for most of that game it was a real arm wrestle. It was a pretty tough game, really physical game."

Young gun Jake Clifford played his best game of 2019 in the win over the Warriors, while Morgan is taking control of the game at crucial times, which reminded Martin of his form of two years ago when he led the Cowboys to the grand final.

"He played unreal, especially his kicking game and the way he directed us around the field," he said.

"It's something he really works on, his control of the game. He really leads from the front.

"[Clifford] has really grown a lot of confidence and it's only a good thing for the team that he starts playing how he wants to play. We all know the ability that he has. It's going to be beneficial for the team.

Cowboys v Bulldogs - Qualifying Final, 2007

"It was such a good feeling when the siren rang and that winning feeling walking back to the sheds. I want to continue to feel that."

Clifford spent extra time studying vision in the lead-up to last week's game with the coaching staff, who identified the need for the Tully Tigers junior to get more time to make attacking plays.

"I need to get my hands on the ball more and run the ball more to become a threat. I take a lot of confidence out of that game and things I did," he said.

"I guess there's a little bit of pressure but the coaching staff and players, we all trust each other and believe in each other. When you know they trust you and believe in you that makes your job a bit easier."