Two years on from his retirement, Darius Boyd’s influence at the Broncos remains strong with Te Maire Martin the latest to learn on the run from the two-time premiership winner.
Halfback Adam Reynolds, assistant coach John Cartwright and Boyd are helping Martin fine-tune his fullback play after resuming his NRL career in round seven following a three-year absence due to a brain bleed.
Reynolds delivers the spiralling high balls that Martin concedes “doesn’t come second nature” to defuse while Cartwright helps with his positional play in defence.
Boyd, who played 337 NRL games and won titles with the Broncos and Dragons, finishes it off with working on Martin’s vision and passing game in attack.
“They’re all probably getting sick of me asking so many questions,” Martin told NRL.com.
“Carty’s work is probably the most important for me. He helps me with the defensive side of things especially getting numbers right, you help organise the whole defensive line.
Sea Eagles v Broncos: Round 10
“Hopefully after that I can start to make more of an impact in attack because we’ve got some good outside backs that need some clean early ball.
“Guys like Kotoni Staggs and Herbie Farnworth, you want them one-on-one with the opposition as much as you can.
“The faster I can get our defensive line organised the more I can concentrate on getting them some ball. I’m working on catch more high balls too.
“I dropped one [last week] but Kotoni got in my ear thinking I didn’t drop it so it made me second guess myself. Looking at the replay I dropped it clean.”
Other than a failed captain’s challenge, the Broncos’ investment in Martin is so far paying early dividends.
Martin’s return to the NRL has been one of the success stories of the season with the former Wests Tigers, Panthers and Cowboys playmaker eyeing off a new deal at Red Hill.
The former Kiwi representative was cleared to return by an independent doctor in New Zealand last year, where he played local football alongside his siblings.
It was from there his manager urged him to give the NRL one last opportunity after originally retiring aged just 23.
“Because I had to finish and didn’t want to, I got to go home and started fishing, hunting and surfing… all that kind of stuff, but I realised that I can do plenty of that after football,” said Martin, who played 10 games at fullback for the Cowboys in 2018-19.
“As much as I do enjoy the simple things in life, footy isn’t always there, you might get a 10-year span if you’re lucky.
“My goal at the start of the year when I got over here was to try and play some consistent footy in Queensland Cup and make sure my head was right.
“I got the opportunity earlier than I thought. I’m a bit more grateful for everything after having the game taken away from me once.
“If anyone knows how fast the game can be taken from you it’s me.”
Martin: It's all a bit surreal
As for the thought of a new deal at the Broncos, Martin is taking it all in his stride.
“It’s no secret if you’re playing good footy the club will want to re-sign you. It’s not a huge focus for me, obviously I do want to stay here but I just want to play consistent footy,” he said.
“I want to get my body back to where it needs to be because it’s a bit off at the moment. There’s places I want it to be but I can’t get to because of my fitness levels and missing some of the pre-season.
“I’ve got to get back to the drawing board and catch some high balls before I start worrying about contracts.”