By MELTON PAIS
RHYSE Martin was one player who stamped his mark on Papua New Guinea’s opening World Cup fixture against Wales last week.
The goal-kicking back-rower scored a brace of tries, kicked five goals and added a try assist in an impressive 80-minute performance.
If PNG Kumuls fan were not aware of Martin’s abilities before, then they are now.
The sturdily built 183cm, 103kg forward played a pivotal role in helping the Kumuls to a 50-6 thumping of the Dragons.
But Martin is no show pony, the 24-year-old did his fair share of the grunt work on the Kumuls right edge working with centre Nene Macdonald and winger Justin Olam.
He made 27 tackles, 10 hit ups and broke the line twice.
Martin’s qualified for PNG through his whose father who was born in Port Moresby and has roots in Hula, Rigo, Central.
The highlight of Martin’s performance was his two tries and the blindside grubber that he put through for Olam to score in the second half.
Martin was named the Kumuls’ best forward earning the Melanesian Trustee Services Limited award for his effort against Wales.
Martin is the leading point scorer at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup point scorer after the opening round with 18 points.
New Zealand’s Shaun Johnson is in second place with 14 points.
“It’s a good achievement to lead the points scorers’ tally after the first round of games but that was because we played well as a team against Wales,” Martin said.
Martin, who first played for PNG in 2014, said he was always honoured to play for PNG, and the World Cup was the ultimate stage to represent the country on.
He also commended teammate Ase Boas for setting him up for his two tries.
“It was amazing to run off Ase (Boas) because he creates opportunities and is a great ball player,” Martin said.
“He had a hand in several of our tries which enabled us to put a big score on Wales.”
Martin said facing the Irish on Sunday would be a different challenge after their impressive win over Italy in Cairns last Sunday.
“The Ireland team looks pretty physical. They are a solid side but we’ll work hard on our defence.”
Martin said he relished the responsibility of kicking the goals but would support first choice kicker Ase Boas. “I’m just honored to wear the red, gold and black and play alongside some of the country’s best and most experienced players like David Mead, Paul Aiton, James Segeyao, Nene Macdonald and Kurt Baptiste.
“I’m also enjoying my time with the Hunters boys in the squad. I’ve played against them before and I’m familiar with the guys so it’s good to have all that in the squad.”
By MELTON PAIS