After a “frustrating” start to the season, Penrith backrower Liam Martin says he’s grateful to be back on the field doing what he loves.
The NSW Blues star missed six games for the Panthers this season due to a pesky hamstring injury. While hamstring injuries can often be troublesome for players, Martin’s was particularly unpredictable, which caused a lot of stress for all involved.
“It was just a low-grade hammy tear,” Martin told Extra Time.
“Typically you’re normally back within a week or two, but mine kept on reaggravating.
“We’d go through the whole rehab block and that final hurdle I would just fall at.”
Martin, whose had a few niggling injuries during his near 100-game NRL career, said he’s never experienced anything quite like the 16mm tear he had in his leg.
“Most of my injuries in the past I’ve had a set time frame like, ‘you’ll be back in two weeks’, whereas this one was a bit indefinite,” he said.
“I sort of had to see it from session to session and whether I’d get through each one. I think I re-did it three times and by the third one the physios said they were going to pull it right back and take the conservative approach.
“It was frustrating because you should be fine, but you’re feeling it and you’re going ‘this isn’t right’… it was so frustrating.”
After several weeks of treatment and research into what was causing the setbacks, Martin was finally confident he had turned a corner and was keen to get back on the field.
“I just took the slow and steady approach… if it takes three or four weeks then it will take three or four weeks,” Martin said.
“I’m just fortunate with the physios here, the amount of work they have done. I was in every day getting treatment on it. I want to say a massive thanks to them because it was frustrating, but we got there in the end.”
Ultimately, the 26-year-old’s patience and perseverance paid off with Brad Fittler selecting him to play for NSW in Origin I despite playing just five games all season.
Martin scored the Blues’ first four-pointer in Adelaide on May 31, a much deserved reward following a trying period.
“I had my own doubts about being selected just with the amount of footy I’ve played… I only played limited minutes up until that point,” Martin said.
“But to get out there, I was just lucky the boys got me through it, and I did my best.”
Martin has also been selected for Origin II but will need to prove his health and fitness after suffering a concussion against the Roosters last weekend. Blues officials are confident he’ll be right to play.
Meanwhile, Martin shared a cheeky joke with his co-captain Nathan Cleary after the Dragons game a fortnight ago, in which the halfback suffered a hamstring injury of his own, ruling him out for up to six weeks.
“I said to him after the game, ‘explosive athletes, we’re too fast’,” Martin laughed.
“Being in his shoes not long ago, his injury is worse than mine. It’s pretty devastating. You could see how much it meant to him on Sunday – he was cut.
“But I know he’ll do whatever it takes. He’ll put his best foot forward and try and come back as quick as possible.”
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 a decade.