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Even through the more grueling parts of pre-season training over the last few months, it's been hard to wipe the smile off the face of new Warriors signing Te Maire Martin. 

And who could blame him? Two years on from the discovery of a brain bleed which forced him to walk away from the NRL, he's back at his hometown club on a three-year deal, with his first child due in mid-February. 

The 27-year-old is also enjoying being back closer to friends and family after spending much of the past decade in Australia during stints with the Panthers, Cowboys and Broncos. 

"I sort of play everything by ear now. I appreciate things a lot more now. Being able to be back in a team environment, getting to do what I enjoy and to do that every day for a job is pretty good," Martin told 

"I go back home on my days off (to his hometown of Taharoa, 200kms outside of Auckland), it's been nice catching up on all the things I missed out on.

Life feels a bit more free. There are more of the things I like do here with the hunting, fishing and surfing, and it's all just a drive down the road now. 

Te Maire Martin

"The best part is having my own animals for hunting, I have my horse, dogs, all of that kind of stuff, which makes it a whole lot more enjoyable. 

"My partner is from near Hamilton too, and that was the big thing with coming back. Having that family support with baby coming and how much easier it will make it."

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After returning to the NRL last year as a fullback with the Broncos, Martin is set to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves in 2023 and admits he is excited by the prospect of playing in his preferred position again. 

"I am enjoying being back in the halves. I played most of my time at six, so I am familiar with it," Martin said. 

"But I do think playing fullback last year opened my eyes to how they do things and what they see from the back that you don't see in the frontline. 

"Hopefully that can help out Charnze [Nicoll-Klokstad] and whoever else plays at the back this year. I better understand now how much they have to cover, and there are some things I have learned where hopefully I can turn back and cover kicks for them to help out. 

"It's been good to link with Shaun again too, he's still the same, still got it all."

Martin hasn't been the only one impressed by Johnson's pre-season so far, with coach Andrew Webster anticipating a big season ahead for the veteran No.7. 

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"Shaun at the moment has done everything bar two sessions [this pre-season]. Shaun is doing everything in his power to not only have the starting position but to be a dominant halfback in the NRL, and actually fulfill his potential and his legacy," Webster said. 

"I don't see anyone good enough to take that off him if he fulfills his potential."

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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