Martin accepts life as celebrity

Normal, Sports

BEING treated like a god is something Tyson Martin has had to get used to lately.
A simple walk down the street results in every eye on him and usually ends with being mobbed, while he rarely leaves a training session with the gear he arrived with.
But the former Cowboys under-20s player excitedly concedes that is just what happens when you are selected to play for the Kumuls in rugby league-mad Papua New Guinea.
Martin was last Monday named in the 20-man PNG squad for the Port Moresby-based Pacific Cup, which also includes Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
From living in Townsville “under the radar”, the 19-year-old said he had been in for a shock when he arrived in Port Moresby for a training camp two weeks ago.
“You walk down the street and there’s a thousand eyes looking at you, people know who you are and it’s just a spin-out,” Martin said.
“If I’m not signing autographs it’s throwing all my gear away because they all want it so you end up going home with nothing.
“But it’s not too bad because you know how much they love it.”
There is no question about how thrilled he is with his selection.
Born in Cairns with his father from PNG, Martin had always dreamed of representing the Kumuls, although it has happened even earlier than he had hoped.
The utility player was a shock inclusion in the national team for last month’s annual showdown with the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII, but proved a standout.
Martin more than held his own defending on the side that boasted Cowboy NRL heroes Luke O’Donnell and John-athan Thurston in a game won 42-18 by the Aussies.
“My mates would ask me ‘who would you play for, Australia or the Kumuls?’ and I always said I’d like to play for the Kumuls – it makes my family proud as well,” Martin said.
“‘They are all happy for me and that’s all that matters.”
Although his Australian-based family were not there when PNG thrashed Tonga 44-14 last Sunday, Martin said he would have more than enough support in the stands.
“I have a lot who have come to see me and caught up – a lot of them I have never met before – but that’s what you get, hey,” he said with a laugh.
“When I came over for the Prime Minister’s XIII they took me to my uncle’s place and people who I didn’t know came from everywhere and cooked me up a big feed.
“They treated me like a god I don’t really like that, it puts you out of your comfort zone.
“But, it is how they want to treat you, they want to do everything for you,” Martin added.
But the club still wants him close by and he hopes to sign a contract with one of North Queensland’s feeder teams, Northern Pride or Mackay, upon his return.