BACK ON FAMILIAR GROUND Martin keen to face his old club
COWBOYS five- eighth Te Maire Martin is confident a minor knee injury won’t hold him back when he returns to face his former club in Penrith for the first time.
The 21- year- old did not train with North Queensland yesterday after suffering a knock to his knee against the Storm, but he is expected to be fine to tackle his former teammates on Saturday night.
Martin played the first seven games of the season for the Panthers, but fell out of favour and was axed to reserve grade before making the midseason switch to the Cowboys.
The talented half was prepared to cop a few jibes ahead of his return to Pepper Stadium but he expected both teams to keep their focus on the field for the potentially season- defining clash.
“Everyone’s been pretty quiet so I think they’re all pretty focused, but we’ll see what happens. I might have a bit more coming now,” Martin said.
“Any game this close to the end of the season is pretty important to get the roll on into finals. If we get a win here then it will set us up well for the last three games that we have left.
“If they get a win … then it puts them on the same points as us. It’s definitely important for both teams.”
A win on Saturday night would see the Panthers leapfrog the Cowboys into sixth place on for- and- against, while North Queensland could finish the round anywhere from fourth to eighth on the ladder depending on other results.
The Cowboys are coming off consecutive losses to the Roosters and Storm, but Martin was confident they still had a strong platform from which to mount their finals charge.
“I’m really enjoying my football and getting combinations down pat, but the last two games have been pretty poor from us,” Martin said.
“I think both games we’ve been in it, but we’ve just let them back in, especially against that Roosters team. Our second half wasn’t good enough. There’s definitely some positives to take out of it and a lot to improve on.”
Martin won’t be the only former Panther returning to his old stamping ground.
Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote played 83 NRL games for the Panthers before shifting to Townsville in 2014 and the Penrith junior said he always enjoyed playing in front of his friends and family.
“It’s always good going back to Penrith where it all began,” Coote said. “I love going back there more so for family and they always come out.”
Coote’s experience at the back has been crucial for the Cowboys, with Martin still finding his feet at his new club and champion playmaker Johnathan Thurston out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Michael Morgan has stepped up as an organiser and will even take the captaincy for the first time against Penrith, and Coote said he was just doing whatever he could to help the team’s attack.
“I’m just trying to help out ‘ Morgo’ as much as I can,” Coote said.
“He’s got a lot on his plate in taking Thurston’s role there and getting people organised. I’m helping as much as I can in getting plays on for him and getting the boys in position.” ETHAN Lowe jokes he shouldn’t practise goalkicking at all. After all, he barely booted a ball in anger before nailing the biggest individual moment of his career against Penrith in round 16.
And while he was given the job virtually by default, statistics show the backrower is capable of handling the pressure again in September.
North Queensland re- ceived news before that game against Penrith that Johnathan Thurston was out for the season.
Winger Kyle Feldt was anointed his goalkicking replacement, but passed the baton to Lowe after copping a knock to his knee.
After Feldt scored an acrobatic try off a Michael Morgan kick in the dying stages, Lowe nailed the sideline conversion squinting into the afternoon sun to se- cure his side a 14- 12 win. He has since kicked 19 of 23 goals at a success rate of almost 83 per cent, up there with the best sharpshooters in the league.
“To be honest I didn’t even practise that whole week either,” Lowe said.
“I had about four kicks in the warm- up and that’s all the practice I had.
“I don’t know how confident I was going into it, but now I’ve taken on that re-