Rhyse Martin keen to crown his Leeds career with major silverware

Having proved a model of consistency amid the relative chaos of recent seasons, Leeds second-row Rhyse Martin believes the time is right to crown his Headingley career with some serious silverware.

The ultra-dependable 31-year-old has only a solitary Challenge Cup success in 2020 to show for his efforts since moving to the club in 2019, and with his contract up at the end of the year, 2024 may be his last chance to lift more trophies.

But Martin is convinced he has already seen a shift-change in his side’s ability to chisel out precious points after three wins in four matches, culminating in lashttps://content-wordpress.pressassociation.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=9499691&type=image&TB_iframe=1t Friday’s fightback – ignited by Martin’s opening try – to beat Leigh from 16 points behind.

Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants – Betfred Super League – Headingley Stadium
Rhyse Martin has been one of Leeds Rhinos’ most dependable performers (Martin Rickett/PA)

“To be able to find that rhythm to pull it back is impressive and it’s something that has got the team through in recent years,” Martin told the PA news agency ahead of Friday’s Super League clash with St Helens.

“Obviously to get a lead and grind it out to get the win is easier on the stress levels and we’ve probably had to find ourselves fighting back from deficits a bit too often for my liking.

“But I think in recent years we might have found a way to lose that game, and also the games against Catalans and Salford, so being able to close out games and get the two points is crucial.

St Helens v Leeds Rhinos – Betfred Super League – Grand Final – Old Trafford
Martin helped Leeds hit back from 16 points down to beat Leigh last week (Martin Rickett/PA)

“In previous years we’ve been one win from four, so it’s nice to be in this position. These early wins will help us in the back end of the season. Silverware is what you strive for because it’s what you want to look back on and talk about with your kids.”

Martin has been a virtual ever-present in an otherwise inconsistent Rhinos side over the last three years, playing at centre for much of the 2023 campaign, and adding his accuracy with the boot that saw him equal the world record for consecutive successful kicks in 2022.

But Martin’s status as arguably one of the most underrated players in Super League – and certainly one of its most successful overseas signings – may be on borrowed time with his future beyond the current campaign still unclear.

Princess of Wales attends Rugby League World Cup quarter-final match
Martin captained Papua New Guinea at the 2022 World Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I am off contract at the end of the season and at the moment it’s up in the air,” added Martin. “For me, nothing else has changed since I came to the club – I turn up and train hard and play hard.”

Martin, one of a growing number of PNG players in Super League, made no secret of his desire to be involved in a prospective Papua New Guinean franchise in Australia’s lucrative NRL.

Talks on funding a franchise team in Port Moresby are understood to be ongoing and Martin, who has represented his country at two World Cups, said: “If PNG got an NRL team it is something I’d be interested in, 100 per cent.

“I don’t know when that will be, so I don’t know in what capacity. But it would be something to play for them. It would be like playing for Manchester United, one of those massive teams that gets crazy fans everywhere they go. It would be something special.”