GO THE COWS
CAN THEY ELUDE THE EELS FOR RACE TO GRAND FINAL?
ODDS don’t matter when it comes to finals and the Cowboys will be out to defy them once again against the Eels hype-train tonight at ANZ Stadium.
Parramatta has rocketed into second favouritism in the premiership race and seem to have it all figured out under former Cairns Brothers coach Brad Arthur, but pure heart is fuelling the fire for another Cowboys boilover in Sydney.
Paul Green has suggested the Eels are certainties to qualify for their first preliminary final since 2009, but in the spirit of Cowboys teams of the past, he has them primed to keep the dream alive.
TE Maire Martin expected to use a notebook and pen more than playing NRL this year.
On the outer with Penrith and in need of a change, Martin didn’t think twice when his manager asked “would you like to go to North Queensland and learn under JT?”
When he touched down in Townsville in June he expected to be learning from the game’s greatest playmaker this year, not deputising for him.
The 21-year-old exited the Panthers after it became clear they viewed skipper Matt Moylan as their long-term No.6.
Ironically Martin is playing his second final this weekend against Parramatta while Moylan, on leave for personal issues, is not.
Thurston’s season-ending shoulder injury was a massive blow, but Martin feels his shift north feels like fate as a result.
It’s unfortunate Johnno got injured, (but) it was probably perfect timing when I came up,” Martin said. “Obviously
you don’t want someone like that to get injured but it opened up a good window for me to play and playing finals is something really special to me.
“They (Penrith) told me to go back and find some form, they ended up putting Matty Moylan there.
“They must have rang my manager and he said we can look somewhere else if you’re keen, it might be tough for you to get back into the team.
“He said would you be keen to go up to North Queensland and learn off JT? There was only one answer there.”
Thurston still travels with the team, giving Martin the luxury of asking him for advice at halftime of games.
Martin has wasted little time winning over his new teammates by playing with a medial ligament injury heavily strapped for the last month.
“(The motivation was) just the opportunity to play first grade, you don’t get too many chances,” he said. “I don’t know how many shots I’ll get next year.”
PRIMED: Cowboys halves pairing of Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin.
CRUNCH TIME: Te Maire Martin (left) and Michael Morgan ahead of tonight’s semi-final.