No-nonsense Penrith forward Martin a student not to be messed with

If you ask anyone at Penrith who the smartest player at the club is they'll point you to the least experienced, hard-hitting no-nonsense forward in Liam Martin.

Which, if you're judging him by his on-field performances of hitting blokes at will and running around at a hundred miles an hour, it might come across as surprising.  

That's why Panthers skipper James Tamou has no problem letting Martin fire up on the paddock because he's unlikely to fall for any of the opposition bait that could fall his way.  

Martin deferred a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of NSW in Kensington this year once he was elevated to the Panthers top 30 squad over the summer. 

"He's actually smart, like you get your smart people in rugby league but he's really smart," Tamou told NRL.com.

"He's particularly good at history, he just picks it up straight away and will know a lot on everything. Stuff that goes over the top of everyone else's heads.

"And it helps out onto the field. It might look like he could lose his head and retaliate or react when he puts a big shot on but he's calm and smart. Some of us don't have that luxury.

"He enjoys the contact, has a bit of speed on him and you always knew he was going to come through because when we weren't going well he made his position his own."

Martin's aggression was typified against former Panthers teammate Dallin Watene-Zelezniak last week.

The bookend engaged in a verbal battle with Watene-Zelezniak before putting a hit on his ex-teammate in the second half.

"He was into me a bit earlier in the game so I thought bugger it I'll try and get him good," Martin said.

"We shook hands afterwards and he said he loved it. It's part of my game but I like to keep it under control.

"I feel like if I can bring that to the team and change the momentum with my defence that's what I try and bring. I used to watch Nigel Plum and Adam Docker play and remember thinking that's how I'd like to play."

Martin has been retained in the starting 13 for Ivan Cleary ahead of Friday night's clash against the Sharks despite Viliame Kikau returning on the left edge.

A move to the front row for James Fisher-Harris has seen Martin begin to make the middle of the field his own.

"It's been a rollercoaster year, I didn't win my first five and then won five in a row," Martin said.

"All the emotions have been up and down. Obviously there's a lot of areas to improve in terms of ball security and communication with my middles and half in attack and defence but I'm enjoying every minute."