Martin gets first crack at goal-kicking
Feb 7, 2006
By Dale Budge
Former premiership winner Tony Martin will start the Warriors season as their centre and primary goal-kicking option according to new coach Ivan Cleary.
Martin has recovered from a career-threatening neck injury suffered almost a year ago and looks in good shape ahead of the Warriors first pre-season trial against Canberra at North Harbour Stadium this weekend.
Goal-kicking has been a major shortfall for the club since Cleary retired from his playing days at the end of 2002.
Brent Webb, Lance Hohaia and Stacey Jones have filled the role since but only Jones had any sort of consistent success and even that was not up to the elite standard set by Cleary.
So with the super boot now in charge of the Warriors, he has set about finding the best suitor for the job and Martin appears to have won the job to start with at least.
"Tony Martin has certainly put his hand up and wants the job," Cleary told tvnz.co.nz. "Sione [Faumuina] has been kicking well and we have got a few other options like Lance [Hohaia] but at this stage Tony is going to have first crack at it and i don't see any reason why he won't keep it."
Martin was labelled a talented goal-kicker by the Warriors when they signed him from the London Broncos two seasons ago but injuries have prevented him from cementing a spot in the line-up let alone perfecting the role.
But having spent the off-season working hard on fitness and in the gym, Martin looks in the best shape he has been since arriving in Auckland.
Cleary has brought in a former Kiwi goal-kicking great to work with Martin and the club's alternative kickers this season.
"I have got Daryl Halligan working with the boys this year, which is very good."
Halligan held point-scoring and goal-kicking records after spending a decade in the NRL with North Sydney and the Bulldogs and has generally been considered the best goal-kicker of all time.
Meanwhile coach Cleary confirmed that Faumuina will play at stand-off to start the season.
He believes that long-term Faumuina has all the skills to be a very successful five-eighth and is in the same mould size-wise as greats like Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley and Trent Barrett.
"You won't see his best football as a six for a while but I certainly think you will see it as he spends more time there," Cleary said.