COLUMN: Loss of five-eighth Martin hurts very much

Kyle Lovett is knocked out of the way by the Roosters' Sam Moa.
Kyle Lovett is knocked out of the way by the Roosters' Sam Moa.

Watching the departing Te Maire Martin in the under-20s was more painful that witnessing the Cronulla Sharks put on 40 points against the Wests Tigers.

Cronulla may be finals bound, but it is hardly a club known for point scoring.

Letting in seven tries shows just how far the Wests Tigers need to come before they can even think about lifting that premiership trophy again.

But as depressing as it may sound, the loss of the club's five-eighth Martin to rivals Penrith Panthers hurts more.

The Junior Kiwi was in high demand this year and was unable to be retained by the club due to Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks having a mortgage on the six and seven jerseys.

Martin is a future first grader and too good to be playing third fiddle for too long.

Former Wests Tigers half Blake Austin — now at the Canberra Raiders — has been one of the revelations in the NRL this year, and if experts are to be believed, Martin has the potential to be even better.

Whether he starts in first grade next year — given the Panthers already have Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward — is one thing, but it won't be long before he forces his way into first grade.

While it's understandable that Martin sought greener pastures, it's not so understandable that money has been spent to retain second-rower Kyle Lovett for two more years.

If there has been one obvious weakness at the Wests Tigers this year, it has been the second row.

Lovett is by no means the problem, but he certainly isn't the solution.

He may be young and there may be plenty of room for improvement, but he is not the answer to the club's second row woes.

The club should be cut some slack for Martin's departure, but there are no excuses when it comes to Lovett's re-signing.

Though he's there for two more years now so I hope he proves me wrong.


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