Penrith rookie Te Maire Martin has yet to play a single game with fellow whizkid Nathan Cleary, but is adamant he’s in no rush to make his NRL return from a shoulder injury.
Martin will take the field in a NSW Cup match on Saturday for what will be just his second game back since suffering what was initially feared as a season-ending shoulder displacement in round eight.
The ninth-placed Panthers are in desperate need of the New Zealander’s speed and skill as they search to climb back into the top eight, however Martin admits he’s not fully confident in his shoulder.
“It’s however the shoulder feels,” he said.
“Obviously (Bryce) Cartwright’s doing a good job at six so whatever the coach wants, he knows what’s best for the team. I suppose a half confident me is not going to be good for the team.”
The former Wests Tigers junior admits he shied away from tackling in his reserve grade return last week.
“I had no confidence. But it didn’t hurt or anything,” he said.
“I was a bit scared at the start, just because I haven’t used it in a while. It’s a lot different on the field than it is at training with the pads. It’s getting better.
“It’s what happens after an injury, that’s what everyone tells me.”
Martin enjoying a match-winning NRL debut back in round three but got injured before Cleary established himself as the team’s chief playmaker following his first game in round 13.
Cleary and Martin, signed until the end of 2019 and 2018 respectively, are seen as the long-term halves pairing at Penrith but have yet to play together in any grade.
Martin, who has dedicated much of his recent injury layoff to strengthening his lower body and working on his kicking game, said his teammate’s remarkable ascension to the top grade had spurred him in his rehab.
“I’ve played against him, and that was hard enough,” Martin said.
“It was a real buzz for me how he settled in so fast. He just took it with two hands and went with it. He made me train a bit harder while I was off to try and get back faster.”