Australia v Italy: Rugby League World Cup
ST HELENS, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Liam Martin of Australia breaks with the ball before going over for their sides eighth try during Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool B match between Australia and Italy at Totally Wicked Stadium on October 29, 2022 in St Helens, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Penrith back-rower Liam Martin has been a mainstay in every representative side he qualifies for since making his New South Wales debut, however his World Cup efforts have helped the edge forward escape an unwanted tag.

While he doesn't earn the individual accolades like fellow second-rowers Viliame Kikau, Isaiah Papalii and Angus Crichton, Martin has quietly being forging his own path, now brandishing two premiership rings, an Origin series victory and now a World Cup win to add to the resume.

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)

However, despite the kid from Temora's on-field successes, many fans have been quick to dismiss the forward's efforts, claiming the the 25 year-old is carried by his Panthers' team-mate's accomplishments.

Dismiss him at your own peril.

If you purely based your assumptions on Martin off his statistics, then he wouldn't be close to the likes of the aforementioned Kikau or Papalii, however the 'Temora terrier' has proven time and time again that he brings a lot more to a match than metres gained and tackles made.

Martin averaged just 55 running metres per game in State of Origin this year, a series where the back-rower played all but ten minutes of the Blues' three games in 2022.

Yet, he was arguably one of New South Wales' more impactful forwards, his aggression laying the platform for his team mates, his up-in-your-face attitude and vigorous hits setting the tone each match.

It was that kind of performance that earned him Man of the Match honours against the Kiwis in a World Cup semi-final. When the Kangaroos' forward pack was against the wall, Martin continued to lay out New Zealand attackers to the point where the Kiwis would avoid that edge.

If anything, Martin was the one carrying his team mates, and not the other way round.

The back-rower had added motivation to lift the World Cup trophy, losing his uncle Ian to motor neurone disease back in Australia days before the crucial semi-final.

PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: Liam Martin of the Panthers scores a try during the round one NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Manly Sea Eagles at BlueBet Stadium on March 10, 2022, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Statistically, his 86 metres and 27 tackles in the World Cup final against Samoa is nothing to turn heads, but in terms if impact, he was again one of Australia's best forwards, and head coach Mal Meninga certainly has taken note.

“He did (his job) very well. That's why he's in the Test team. He makes a difference, he makes great contributions to our team," Meninga said after Martin's display against New Zealand.

“He's obviously humble, but that's what he provides. I'm really happy with his performance, not only tonight but through the whole tournament.”

The back-rower has agreed to a one-year deal with the Penrith Panthers that ties the premiership-winner to the foot of the mountains until at least the end of 2024, and will put pen-to-paper when he returns to the club post-World Cup.