Te Maire Martin released by Penrith Panthers, joins North Queensland Cowboys

Heading North: Te Maire Martin is tackled by Eels players earlier this season. He has been released by the Penrith Panthers to join the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Heading North: Te Maire Martin is tackled by Eels players earlier this season. He has been released by the Penrith Panthers to join the North Queensland Cowboys. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The Penrith Panthers have released Te Maire Martin from the remainder of his contract effective immediately.

The 21-year-old playmaker will link with the North Queensland Cowboys and is eager to play with Jonathan Thurston.

He previously turned the Cowboys down two years ago to join the Panthers in the hope of getting a regular first grade spot.

"I've got a lot of time. I'm still in my learning phase," Martin told Fairfax Media.

"I'll just soak in as much as I can from JT and try and work on my game. When I turned them down before, there was a part of me that just wanted to play first grade. Penrith was a good opportunity. I didn't really look too much at the learning side of it back then. Now I have a clearer understanding.”

Born in New Zealand, Martin grew up in the country before moving to the Gold Coast on a scholarship to Keebra Park State High School.

In 2014, he was signed by the Wests Tigers and played two seasons with the Holden Cup side, being named five-eighth of the year in the competition in both seasons.

With 13 first grade games under his belt, Martin had ups-and-downs in his time at the Panthers.

Although he was selected for the New Zealand Test team in last year’s Four Nations tournament, Martin was dropped by the Panthers earlier this season.

Joining the Cowboys as early as Sunday, Martin may make his debut for North Queensland as early as the following weekend – against the Panthers – depending on if Thurston and Michael Morgan back up after Origin.

Martin said he was looking forward to the new challenge.

"I went up there when I was looking at Penrith and I ended up choosing the Panthers," he said.

"It's pretty good that they still keen on getting me there even though I turned them down that time. They obviously have Morgan and Thurston up there, so I'm not sure what's happening. But I'm keen to learn."

Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould said he wishes Martin the best for his career.

“Te Maire came to us with the hope of developing his career,” Gould said.

“I have no doubt Te Maire will have a long and successful career in the NRL, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

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