‘I said something to him’: Martin out to reprise Munster Origin niggle

Panthers second-rower Liam Martin will attempt to rile Cameron Munster into conceding a couple of easy penalties, but admits the Storm star will likely be on his best behaviour when the sides clash in Saturday’s preliminary final.

Munster was fined for kicking out at a prone Martin during Queensland’s loss to NSW in the first match of this year’s Origin series. Munster was put on report but remained on the field.

For Martin, it was no skin off his nose, and he hopes it happens again on Saturday afternoon – although he believes Storm coach Craig Bellamy will have his players fully focussed on the task at hand.

“I don’t think we are expecting anything like that but if it does come, it’s an extra bonus,” Martin said. “They’re just a disciplined team. They probably won’t be [doing those sorts of things] especially on this sort of stage.”

Martin admits he provoked Munster with some targeted sledging, but said the two are not rivals off the field.

“I was annoying at the time on the field. I went a bit extra and said something to him, but I’m pretty laid back,” he said. “Whatever happens on the field, it doesn’t really phase me. I don’t take it personally.”

Liam Martin is adamant he and Cameron Munster are not off-field rivals.Credit:Nine

The Panthers will be coming up against a well-rested Storm side after they effortlessly disposed of Manly in the first week of finals.

By contrast, the Panthers’ first-week clash against South Sydney and their second-week match against the Eels were fierce battles, with players starting to feel the effects of fatigue. As a result, the club has amped up recovery sessions this week, with all players receiving double massages.

Centre Stephen Crichton said staff had done everything possible to ensure the side is physically ready to take on the Storm.

“We had a couple of days off at the start of the week last week. All the boys will be going into the game pretty fresh and as if we had the week off too,” he said.

“I think that’s what got us here, handling the pressure. After the grand final last year, the boys have been preparing all year for this, from pre-season all the way till now. We will be ready to go this week.”

Crichton said the Eels had been massive for the group in proving their physicality.

“It showed the boys are really fit and really down to grinding to the last-minute even our last defensive set I had full faith in the boys that we were going to stick there,” he said. “We will definitely put our best foot forward after that game, it was a confidence boost.”

The Panthers are sweating on the recovery of a number of big names, with forward Viliame Kikau missing Monday’s recovery session.

Kikau was left with a rolled ankle and a gash on his leg after Saturday night’s win over Parramatta and was unable to jump in the pool with the rest of the group at USC stadium due to his stitches.

Winger Brian To’o, who was ruled out of the semi-final clash in the 11th hour, walked out to the session on Monday in a moonboot, but was able to do a number of light laps in the pool for recovery.

Crichton said To’o’s participation in the session was a good sign he would be ready to take on the Storm on Saturday, but the winger was taking his injury day by day.

“He’s a massive boost and he definitely helps us out a lot with the ball and takes a lot of pressure off the forwards,” Crichton said.

“He makes a lot of the running metres as well. It would be great to have him back this week.”

Second-rower Scott Sorensen was on the receiving end of a high shot on Saturday night against the Eels with his nose immediately gushing with blood.

He said the group’s desire to beat the Storm, particularly after last year, will overcome the injury scares facing the club.

“A lot of people talk about the physicality and the back to back games it really doesn’t matter who you verse or who you come up against; it’s going to be physical it’s going to be tough that’s the game we play now,” he said.

“Massages, ice baths, hot spas that kind of thing adds up…and then at the back end of the week we will really rip in.”

Mitch Kenny, who was on crutches, will likely be out for a number of weeks. Kenny was controversially taken off the field in the late stages of Saturday night’s game with play stopping and a trainer running on field while the Eels were on the attack.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley confirmed the incident was being looked at on Monday with the club facing a potential fine.

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