Te Maire Martin meets with Panthers coach amid reports of Warriors interest
Penrith coach Anthony Griffin has moved to sit down with out-of-favour playmaker Te Maire Martin amid speculation the NRL club are on the hunt for Melbourne star Cooper Cronk.
Rumours of the club's pursuit of Cronk surfaced not long after Martin was dropped to reserve grade in round eight.
The New Zealand international was immediately linked with a mid-season move to the Wests Tigers and the Warriors.
However, ahead of his team's clash on Sunday with Newcastle, Griffin dismissed any chase for the Australian and Queensland halfback.
"A lot of the stuff that's in the paper, particularly the Cooper Cronk stuff, we understand it's just not true," Griffin said on Saturday.
"It sells papers and I understand the media's got its own agenda there. It's a good story but, within our club and with our team, we understand those things are always around."
Griffin promised Martin a NRL recall, should his form demand it in the NSW Cup, where he will play in a curtain-raiser to the first-grade fixture at McDonald Jones Stadium.
"I spoke to Te Maire this week about where he is with us," he said.
"Obviously, with halfbacks moving around and player managers dealing with other clubs, there's always speculation.
"But Te Maire's playing tomorrow in the NSW Cup and, if he plays well, that'll be great for him and the club and it'll get him closer back to playing first grade with us."
The Panthers will again rely on makeshift playmaker Bryce Cartwright to partner Nathan Cleary in the halves against the Knights, as they hope to build on the back of last week's historic comeback win over the Warriors.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak that had the pre-season title favourites on the ropes and facing a stiff climb back into top-eight contention, let alone be considered premiership material.
Griffin backed Cartwright to do the job at five-eighth, and hosed down suggestions he was considering pulling skipper Matt Moylan out of fullback and into the frontline.
"Bryce is our five-eighth - he was our five-eighth last year. He's not immune to that position," he said.
"The way we play, Matt obviously gets a lot of first and second-receiver ball.
"He's done a terrific job at fullback the last few weeks. He was close to our best last week, the way he defended their kicking game and his injection in attack and effort in defence. I thought it was a real captain's knock from him."
The Panthers take on a Knights side also buoyed by their last-start upset of Canberra to end their seven-game losing run.
Winger Nathan Ross is a confirmed scratching after his public call for a contract upgrade during the week, with Brendan Elliot called up in his place.
Earlier this year, the Panthers smashed the Knights 40-0 in round four.