When Penrith whizz-kid Te Maire Martin kicked the winning field goal to cap a dream NRL debut in his side’s stirring 23-22 win over Brisbane on Saturday he made it look so easy.
But the reality of the situation when it left his boot was vastly different.
“I sort of closed my eyes and peeked to see if it went over,” Martin said.
“I wanted to celebrate but I was gassing. I couldn’t get my breath back.”
When the 20-year-old playmaker came up with two key plays inside the final 11 minutes to fire his side to their first victory of the season he underlined his promise as a player of the future.
With James Segeyaro out with a broken arm and pivot Peter Wallace moved to hooker, coach Anthony Griffin elected to blood Martin in the crunch clash at Pepper Stadium against the competition favourites.
And after scoring late to even the scores before slotting the winning one-pointer, he proved that sometimes you can believe the hype.
“I knew it was going to be tough, I didn’t know how tough it was going to be,” Martin said.
“I was gassing on the field … Everyone around me made my job easier.”
For the last few years there’s been excitment building around the Junior Kiwis representative after he dominated for the Wests Tigers under-20 side, but it remained to be seen if he was ready for first grade.
But he’s now has handed Griffin a royal selection headache.
With Segeyaro due back in a month, Martin is putting pressure on Wallace and halfback Jamie Soward to hold their spots.
His debut was a special occasion for his tight-knit family after the club flew over his parents Greg and Lesley Martin from New Zealand as well as the woman he calls his “second mum”, his aunt Suzy Cooper, who helped raise him.
He moved in with her as a teenager after being invited to attend prestigious rugby union nursery Hamilton Boys’ High School, nearly two hours from his hometown of Taharoa.
“My mum and (aunty) are real tight ever since I was little,” Martin told AAP.
“She is really the reason why I debuted and have been so successful, she’s real strict, she’s a teacher herself. She got me through school and I have to thank her a lot.
“She has a hard spine and really disciplined and I have to thank her.”