Daniel Martine is “chomping at the bit” to play in Sunday’s Newcastle Rugby League grand final as the Souths second-rower sets to return from a three-week injury lay off.
Lions coach Ben Cross told the Newcastle Herald on Monday that Martine would line-up in the decider at McDonald Jones Stadium despite not yet featuring in this year’s finals series.
Martine picked up the ankle complaint in a last-round loss to upcoming opponents Lakes at Belmont on August 25 and was sidelined for ensuing play-offs with Central and Lakes again.
However, with Souths having earned the most recent weekend off courtesy of a major semi victory over Lakes on September 9, Cross is confident Martine will be more than ready to step up for the 2018 showdown.
“Daniel Martine will come back in,” Cross said.
“He could have played the [major] semi against Lakes, but we knew we would need him the week after if we lost. Thankfully for us we won and got the extra week off.
“It gave him the extra week to recover and he hasn’t lost that much fitness. He’s retained a lot from his rugby sevens days.
“Now he’s chomping at the bit to play this weekend.”
Martine came back to his junior club in the early rounds of this campaign after several seasons playing rugby union for Newcastle side Wanderers, Sydney outfit Warringah and the Australian sevens squad.
Cross said Martine would be the main change from their last encounter with Lakes less than a fortnight ago. Tom Cronan also missed that match, but with illness and the centre is expected to be available this time around.
“Someone will have to drop off the bench, but I’m not sure who that will be yet,” Cross said.
“We’ll take a squad of 19 or 20 this week, train as per usual and go from there.”
Minor premiers Lakes had a recovery swim at Merewether Ocean Baths on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the NSW Rugby League match review committee did not lay any charges from Sunday’s preliminary final despite two incidents being put on report during Lakes’ 38-16 win over Kurri Kurri at Townson Oval.
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