NRL Rd 9 - Sharks v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Liam Martin of the Panthers waves to the crowd after the Panthers won the round nine NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers back-rower Liam Martin will have a family connection with Grand Final opponents and arch-rivals Parramatta next season when his cousin Trent Barrett arrives as an assistant coach.

Martin is still contracted to Penrith next season, but will be free to talk to rival clubs about his future if he doesn't extend with the defending premiers before November 1.

Viliame Kikau and Apisai Koroisau are already set to leave the foot of the mountains, and Stephen Crichton, Spencer Leniu, Brian To'o, Scott Sorensen and Charlie Staines join Martin on the list of those allowed to negotiate when October ends.

Martin looms as an appealing prospect for the Eels given they'll lose Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali’i, Marata Niukore, Oregon Kaufusi and Ray Stone after Sunday. While they've signed Josh Hodgson, J’maine Hopgood and Jirah Momoisea to fill some of the voids, someone of Martin's calibre would ensure they don't lose too much quality.

The man himself is happy to entertain thoughts of a family reunion.

“They’re a successful club, to even be in talks (about joining) is pretty cool,” Martin told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Obviously, my first commitment is to Penrith. Hopefully we can get there and I’ll be able to stay. I’d love to be a Panther for life, that’s my first priority, but it’s footy, so you never know what’s going to happen.”

Martin also spoke on Barrett's move to the Eels, remembering his influence not just growing up but during his time as a highly-rated assistant at Penrith under Ivan Cleary.

“He’s awesome, he’s my cousin. I looked up to him growing up,” Martin said.

“When he came here he taught me heaps, taught all the boys so much. You see how much footy knowledge he’s got.

“He’s going to be a massive asset to the Eels, and it’s going to be worrying with him there next year.”

Penrith face Parramatta in the Grand Final dubbed ‘the battle of the west’ this Sunday in what is sure to be a fiery and fierce clash.