Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin to use his late father’s memory as motivation

LEEDS RHINOS’ goal-kicking forward Rhyse Martin will be playing in his late father’s memory this season,

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 5th March 2022, 6:00 am

Martin had an impressive game for Rhinos in their precious 34-18 win at Wakefield Trinity on Thursday, three days after returning to England from compassionate leave in Australia.

Though he is from Queensland, Martin – along with his brother Tyson – elected to play for Papua New Guinea, where his father was born.

His dad, Stephen Bonaventure Martin, was his greatest supporter and the second-rower said he is never far from his thoughts.

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Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin kicks a conversion during his side’s 34-18 victory over Wakefield Trinity on Thursday. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“I think I have got to get my mindset right for every game and use him as my motivation going into each week,” he vowed.

“I’ll just think maybe I shouldn’t take the easy option and he will keep me a bit more honest, thinking about it.

“Emotionally, once you get into a game and under a bit of fatigue, it doesn’t last too much, but it’s everything leading into it.”

Martin admitted to feeling “up and down at the moment”, but is glad to be back at work.

Leeds Rhinos players stand together ahead of Thursday night's derby clash at Wakefield Trinity. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“Some days are good, some days are a bit harder, but all in all I am happy to be back doing what I love,” he said.

“The boys are all great lads and they’ve been looking after me and making sure I am doing okay and keeping me busy as well. It is good to be back.”

The lead-up to the Wakefield game was “not a normal week for me”, Martin said.

He added: “I flew in on Monday, did a light session in the gym on Tuesday and then the team run with the boys. I felt a bit out of it [during the game], a bit off with my timing and all that, but I am okay and glad to be back into it.”

After a traumatic three weeks, Martin is pleased to have rugby league and Rhinos to focus on. He stated: “The support is probably the biggest thing I’ve had from the club and the fans.

“The way the team got around me and helped me through the last couple of weeks has been unreal and I love them for it.

“It is brotherhood; they know I am here, away from my family and everyone was checking in, the guys were keeping me busy, getting me out, taking me coffees, not letting me sit at home by myself just thinking about it.

“I got a lot of messages from the guys checking in, making sure I was okay.”

Martin played in Rhinos’ Betfred Super League round one defeat by Warrington Wolves just days after his father died.

“It was all emotion, really,” he explained. “I knew my dad would not have wanted me to miss that game – he wouldn’t have wanted me to miss any games, really.

“I knew if I didn’t play it would have been the worst thing for me, I would just have been waiting to get home really.

“I knew he would have been proud of me for playing and not letting my team-mates down, that’s why I did it.”

Martin’s return, along with that of Harry Newman and David Fusitu’a from injury, helped Rhinos get their first win on the board.

They led 30-0 at half-time and he said: “I was glad to get subbed off in the last five minutes, because I couldn’t feel my legs!

“For the group, it’s massive.

“It is tough when you’re not winning, especially with the quality team we’ve got.

“There’s a lot of pressure on you to perform every week, especially playing for the Rhinos – everyone wants to beat you so you have to turn up.

“To get a nice win like that, I think will get us in the right direction.”

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