Liam Martin was concerned that his participation in Origin II would be jeopardised after sustaining a head injury in Penrith’s victory over the Roosters last week. The New South Wales second-rower had to leave the field due to showing symptoms of a Category 1 concussion following an attempted tackle on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. NSW coach Brad Fittler criticised Martin’s decision to go for such a tackle, calling it “pretty dumb.”
During the tackle, Martin rushed out of the defensive line to make a big hit on Waerea-Hargreaves, but his head collided with the Kiwi’s hip. This collision resulted in Martin being placed on an 11-day standdown under the NRL‘s Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocols.
Despite the potential setback, Martin, who was widely acclaimed as NSW’s best player in Origin I, expressed relief that his stand-down period officially ends just hours before the second game. He admitted that he had initially feared missing Game Two due to the injury.
Martin stated, “I was counting the days and it is smack on, so I wasn’t quite sure. The doctor reassured me and our physio contacted me the next morning and said I would be good to go.” He further emphasised that, given the time of the season, he didn’t need to engage in much contact training as he had already experienced plenty of it in the previous months.
However, Martin is currently unable to participate in contact training with the NSW team as he continues to be monitored for progress. Despite this, he assured everyone that he is feeling fine.
He explained, “There won’t be any contact for the week, and then I think maybe on Sunday I can sort of get back with the team in a coloured bib and just do skills. I’m still in and amongst the team and making sure I have clarity on what my role will be. Freddy just said if I could replicate what I did in Game I, that would be great.”
Nevertheless, Fittler expressed his desire for Martin to improve the timing of his tackles, remarking, “I watched the way he did it, and it was stupid so the less contact he does, the better, I’d say. He was pretty dumb, I’m aware of that.”
Despite being officially cleared to play on Wednesday, Martin has no intentions of changing his playing style or approach for Origin II. NSW must win the game after losing 26-18 in the series opener at Adelaide Oval.
“That’s just how I play, like aggressive, and obviously it’s a contact sport so sometimes accidents happen, but I won’t be changing how I play,” Martin asserted.
Aside from Martin, Rabbitohs duo Latrell Mitchell (calf) and Cameron Murray (groin) will also be sitting out of training until later in the week. A decision regarding their fitness will be made before the team travels to Brisbane on Monday.
Stephen Crichton, who replaced Mitchell in Origin I after he sustained a calf injury during the team’s final training session before traveling to Adelaide, is again on standby. South Sydney forward Keaon Koloamatangi has also been named in the 19-man squad.