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Martin needs to start: Lewis

True Blue Luke Lewis wants Liam Martin to start Game Two of the Ampol State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium on 21 June regardless of how the back row and bench may look due to injuries within the Westpac NSW Blues.

A minor groin strain to Cameron Murray has the South Sydney skipper under an injury cloud for NSW, as is Rabbitohs teammate Latrell Mitchell (calf), while halfback Nathan Cleary (hamstring) is out, forcing Blues coach Brad Fittler to reshuffle his squad.

Martin and Murray came off the bench in Game One with both back rowers putting in the hard yards.

The Penrith edge player scored a try, made a line break, three tackle-busts and 31 tackles in his 61 minutes, belying the fact he’s only played six NRL games from 14 rounds this year due to a hamstring injury.

“I think you have to start with Liam Martin - the way that he put his hand up,” Lewis told NSWRL’s weekly program Behind Blue Eyes.

“Before Game One I was a bit unsure how Liam was going to go. He hadn’t played a whole lot of football; he’d come off the bench for Penrith.

“But I like what Liam Martin is about. He’s a tough country footballer. He came on with something to prove.

“He wanted to hurt Queensland when he was running the ball; when he was tackling. Again, he showed what Origin is about.

“I think he’s put his hand up saying ‘Freddy pick me at starting’.”

Newcastle’s Tyson Frizell did start in the second row – after a two-year absence from Origin – and Lewis wants him to remain there.

Frizell had 10 hit-ups, made 33 tackles, two tackle-busts and 48 post-contact metres.

“I loved what Tyson Frizell did; I thought what he brought to that side (in Game One) was brilliant as well,” Lewis said.

“He was hard, he was tough, he was everywhere. He epitomised what Origin is about – just ripping for the time he was out on the field and didn’t give up.”

Lewis knows how hostile Suncorp Stadium can be. He played six of his 17 Origin games there.

“With the Queenslanders up there, you’ve got to block it all out,” he said.

“You’ve got to remember why you’re there, what’s on the line, and what you are representing with the values you take into that game.

“We’ve got a lot of injuries, our backs are against the wall, so we’ve got to come out swinging.

“It’s a really good opportunity for NSW to come out and say, ‘This is what Origin is all about’.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Penrith Panthers players and staff respect and honour the traditional custodians of the land and pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.