Leeds Rhinos' Rhyse Martin answers centre/second-row question, praises 'best' wings, hails middle men

Leeds Rhinos have taken a “massive step forward” in their past two games, goal kicking ace Rhyse Martin reckons.
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Rhinos will travel to Salford Red Devils on Sunday aiming to complete three successive wins for the first time this season.

With Salford beginning the round sixth in Betfred Super League, four points ahead of eighth-placed Rhinos, it is a crucial game for both clubs.

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After a run of six defeats in seven league and cup matches, victories over Huddersfield Giants and then Warrington Wolves have revived Rhinos’ season and Martin insisted: “Last week was a massive step forward.”

Rhyse Martin. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Rhyse Martin. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Rhyse Martin. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

But the ace goal kicker stressed: “I don’t think we’ve turned a corner, we’re just playing how we are capable of playing.

“We’ve known we are a good team, just getting it together consistently has been an issue. Getting bodies on the park consistently has also been an issue, but we are getting better and better every game and we just need to keep focussed and just worry about us.

“We can’t be worrying about anyone else, we’ve put two good games together, but there’s still big games coming up.

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“We put pressure on ourselves with the first half of the season, but we just need to worry about the next game. Like Rohan [Smith, Rhinos’ coach] says, we aren’t getting too far ahead of ourselves.”

Rhyse Martin lands one of his three conversions in last week's win at Warrington. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Rhyse Martin lands one of his three conversions in last week's win at Warrington. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Rhyse Martin lands one of his three conversions in last week's win at Warrington. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

Martin wears squad number 12, but 11 of his 18 appearances this year have been in the three-quarters.

“I don’t know,” Martin admitted of whether he is now a centre or second-rower. “I am just doing my bit for the team.

“I enjoy playing centre and I am getting some opportunities out there. I have played a lot more games at centre this year and we are building combinations now.

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“We’ve had a consistent edge for the last couple of weeks and we are getting better, which is only going to make me a bigger threat out wide.”

Martin reckons wingers Ash Handley and David Fusitu’a make life easier for Rhinos’ centres and the team as a whole, strong carries out of back field and quick play then balls getting their side on the front foot.

“They are unbelievable wingers, the two best in this competition,” Martin said. “Getting the carry after either of them - or after Nene Macdonald [who has played wing and centre] is good.

“I am enjoying it, I am having fun out there and if I stay out there [in the centres], great.”

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Martin is also quick to pay tribute to Rhinos’ engine room. He enthused: “I am proud of the guys, especially the middle guys.

“The intent and energy they are having to put in through the middle, they are making a big difference for the guys out wide.

“It makes my job a lot easier and when we get the ball back I am trying to do my best for them, to get them forward.

“I think the way they have handled themselves the last two games has been a massive credit to them.”

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Sunday’ will see Super League’s two highest points scorers this season face off. Salford’s Marc Sneyd is top with 139, five ahead of Martin whose nine touchdowns make him Leeds’ top try scorer and joint ninth in the competition.

One of only three ever-presents in Rhinos’ side this year, alongside Jarrod O’Connor and Cameron Smith, Martin needs 12 points to reach 1,000 for his career.