Rhyse Martin says Leeds Rhinos will take confidence into Wigan Warriors game after gutsy performance at St Helens

Rhyse Martin says he had “a bit of fun” as Leeds Rhinos’ emergency stand-off, but wouldn’t want to play there every week.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:45 am

Normally a second-rower, Martin switched into the half-backs for last Saturday’s battling Betfred Challenge Cup third round defeat at St Helens.

Rhinos were without all six of their full-time players with experience at stand-off or scrum-half, so Martin was partnered with another forward, Cameron Smith, who had played there just once for Leeds, two years ago.

“I just want to give my team the best I can from me,” the Papua New Guinea captain said about being asked to play out of position.

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Rhyse Martin prepares to kick for goal during last weekend's game. Picture by Mike Egerton/PA.

“I enjoyed it, it does get tiring - I was out on my feet at one point, but I had a bit of fun.

“Sometimes you have to do this, we have been very unlucky with the amount of injuries we’ve got.”

Of his past stand-off experience, Martin - who was born in Australia - said: “I played a bit when I was growing up, never really cemented it.

“I’ve always liked second-row; I was saying to Matty [Prior], you get into the grind of the game where you do all the tackling and you wish you’re a half - you are so fatigued and sick of doing all the tackles, but then I was kind of missing it at one point in the game.

“But I enjoyed it, I have got the skill to play it and if I was to play it for a couple more weeks I’d back myself to go half-all right at it.

“But sometimes you have to do these things when you don’t have the players available.”

Despite their dire injury list, Rhinos - with 12 players missing, mainly from the backs - pushed Saints all the way and were only two points adrift until the Super League champions sealed a 26-18 victory with a late converted try.

Leeds were a man down for most of the second half, after Zane Tetevano was sent-off and Martin reckons they can take confidence from their gutsy effort into Thursday’s game against Wigan Warriors at Emerald Headingley.

Martin said: “We knew what the team was going to be like.

“We didn’t have anything to lose, we just had to go out with a load of energy and try and do our jobs, which we did.

“I was very proud of the boys and the effort they put in, especially the guys in the middle.

“They got stuck into the St Helens boys, that’s for sure.”

Leeds will again be missing key players this week, but Martin feels when the injury victims return they will be a tough team to beat.

“If we keep the same mentality and approach to every game, we will always be in it,” he predicted.

“Obviously [on Saturday] we didn’t have the shape - I won’t say the skill, because the skill was there - but when you don’t have your main halves and all that, it can throw your whole shape out.

“We just kept a simple game plan and kept kicking the ball out so they had to come from set starts, put a bit of pressure back on them.”

Four of the 17 on duty at TW Stadium - full-back Jack Broadbent, second-row Sam Walters, substitute forward Jarrod O’Connor and debutant Morgan Gannon - had only 13 first team appearances between them before the Cup tie.

“The two or three games they got to play together at the back end of last year, they all proved they can play at this level,” Martin said. “I am happy for them they got to play on Saturday and they all did really well.”

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