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Blue Mountains community remind NSW Blues of their roots

Westpac NSW Blues forward Liam Martin says he’s not losing any sleep over the barbs coming his way from Queensland but there’s a large group of school children who will find it hard to nod off tonight after meeting their heroes today.

Members of the Katoomba Devils Junior Rugby League Club formed a guard of honour for the Origin players as they ran out to train on the Blue Mountains Grammar School field at Wentworth Falls in preparation for Game Three next Wednesday at Suncorp Stadium.

Alongside parents, friends and other children on school holidays, more than 1,000 attended the Blues public training session.

“Everything (here) is why we play Origin,” Martin said.

“It’s for our communities, our families and for the state. It’s these people behind us that we play for.

“You remember when you were that little, and having an opportunity to watch Origin (training) would be incredible.

“It allows you to reflect on why we play the game. This is what we dreamt of as little kids – now they’re here witnessing it.”

The 27 year-old Penrith Panther has been labelled a bully for his aggressive tackling style in the 38-18 Game Two win. Commentators say Maroons fans have targeted him as the most hated player next Wednesday.

“I keep getting told that but I don’t really mind. I just try to ignore it – it’s sweet,” Martin said today.

“I don’t lose any sleep over it.”

His Panthers and Blues teammate Isaah Yeo was also not buying into the rhetoric that NSW monstered and bullied the Maroons players in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

“I think it’s just competing … there was probably moments where it happened on both sides,” Yeo said.

“You’re out there in the biggest occasion on a big arena. All the boys are very passionate on both sides.”

A higher priority was assuring NSW fans that Bradman Best’s hamstring was not a major concern, with the Newcastle Knight not taking part in today’s field session.

“He had just a little monitoring scan just to make sure. Nothing came back from that so it’s more just about easing him through day to day,” Yeo said.

“I’m sure he’ll hit the ground running tomorrow.”

Martin himself overcame niggles earlier in the campaign.

“He said he’s fine. I asked him when he first got into camp and he said it (scan) was just precaution,” Martin said.

“I had the first two camps where that was me. I said to him to keep his body right and do what he needs to do and he’ll be ready to go.”

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.