Why NSW coach Brad Fittler blasted Blues star Liam Martin as an ‘idiot’ during fiery phone call just before he was named in team for must-win Origin game two
- Martin named for match at Suncorp Stadium
- Was one of Blues’ best in game one loss
- Fittler was furious over incident vs Roosters
Liam Martin has his Penrith teammate Spencer Leniu to thank for the over-the-phone grilling he received from NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler.
Martin went down with a category-one head knock in Penrith’s win over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night that appeared to jeopardise his chances of lining up in the must-win second Origin match on June 21.
The 26-year-old flew out of the line to tackle Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and led with his head, which collided with the hip of the Roosters enforcer. Martin fell to the turf immediately and played no further part in the game.
Martin was cleared of any concussion symptoms in the days since and while unable to participate in contact training until the day before the game, he is tracking well to line up at Suncorp Stadium.
Martin was left concussed when his tackle on Roosters hard man Jared Waerea-Hargreaves went horribly wrong on Saturday night
The Penrith star was seen holding headgear at NSW training on Wednesday, where he was held out of contact drills due to his head knock
But the poorly timed tackle and ensuing concussion scare were enough to prompt a cranky phone call from Fittler.
‘He rang me either Monday or Sunday and he just said, ‘You’re an idiot’,’ Martin said.
‘He gave me a spray, and I said, ‘Yeah, I know’.
‘Watching it back, it was just awful technique.’
Martin was similarly energetic in the Origin series opener last month where he started from the bench and was the best forward in a losing effort for the Blues.
Martin explained the physicality of his recent performances came after coach Ivan Cleary challenged him to mimic Leniu while the Penrith prop was out injured earlier in the season.
Cleary deploys the fiery Leniu from the bench to help the Panthers get the better of their tired rivals, so when he went down with a testicular injury last month the Panthers needed a replacement.
The 26-year-old admitted he was suffering from a bit of red mist when he shot out of the line and tried to fold Waerea-Hargreaves in half
Blues coach Brad Fittler didn’t hold back when he called Martin just prior to the NSW team being selected
‘(Cleary) said, ‘With ‘Spenny’ being out injured, I want you playing ‘Spenny”s role, just try to do what he does’,’ Martin explained.
‘It’s awesome to see when he comes on and just changes the whole momentum.’
Martin revealed copying Leniu was the secret to his success in the Origin series opener, but admits he cannot push the envelope too far as he could end up with more head knocks.
‘I was trying to emulate ‘Spenny”s game,’ Martin said.
‘I just need to be smarter.
‘I’ve obviously got that aggression but I need to get the technique down pat.
‘It’s about finding that balance between a bit of a red head and bit of a blue head.’
Fittler was confident Martin had learnt his lesson as he prepares to watch contact training from afar this week.
‘I watched the way he did it (the head knock), it was stupid. The less contact he does the better, I’d say,’ Fittler said.
‘What he did was pretty dumb, he’s aware of that.’