Panthers backrower Liam Martin says he’s still hungry to reach the NRL Finals in his rookie season despite his side being on the ropes.
If Penrith lose Friday’s important clash against the embattled Cowboys in Townsville, it’s highly likely they’ll miss playing Finals footy for the first time in four years.
Desperate to stop that from happening, 22-year-old Martin, who is still licking his wounds following Penrith’s 24-12 loss to the Broncos last week, said it was important to get things right over the final three weeks of the regular season.
“It was extremely disappointing [last week] because we knew how important that game was and we weren’t where we needed to be,” he admitted.
“We weren’t playing our style of footy, we were making errors and missing tackles.”
Penrith’s 12-point loss to Brisbane probably didn’t surprise many Panthers fans, who have had to endure a rollercoaster ride of performances all year.
With so much on the line against the Broncos, Martin admits he and his teammates likely panicked at the enormity of the task at hand.
“You’d like to say that pressure didn’t come into it but it probably plays on your mind a little bit,” he said.
“We just needed to flush that and get on with the game, which we couldn’t do.”
Penrith still have a chance of playing deep into September but they needed to beat the 15th placed Cowboys on Friday to help make that happen.
North Queensland are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in decades and are staring down the barrel of six straight losses. Despite all the Cowboys’ troubles in 2019, Martin knows his side have well and truly had their fair share this season as well.
“The hunger is definitely still there for us, we know how important this game is and it’s driving us all,” he said.
“The Cowboys will come ready to fire especially in front of their home crowd. They will want to end the year with a bang and try and upset as many teams as possible leading into the Finals.
“I’ve never played up in Townsville before, it’ll be a massive game I reckon.”
Penrith beat the Cowboys in Townsville last season but this is the first time the sides will meet in 2019.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.