A NEW role out on the field has allowed Rhys Martin to utilise one of his better attributes - his running game.
After playing the majority of his career as scrum half, Martin has enjoyed the shift one wider to fly half despite Port Macquarie Pirates' up and down 2019 season.
Their best form can challenge anyone in the competition, but it's a lack of consistency that has proven their biggest downfall.
Martin's individual season mirrors that of the team.
"It's been a bit of a bumpy road to be honest," he said.
"I've had a few injuries as always, but taking on the captaincy role last year has really helped me develop the leadership skills needed.
"From the team side of it, it's been a big learning curve and we're trying to build on something to hopefully get us all the way this year."
He admitted it had taken a little while to get used to standing one wider out on the field, but he was starting to feel comfortable providing the space for his outside men.
"The biggest thing is getting the right positioning because when you're playing nine you're chasing the ruck and you're right there," he said.
"For 10 it's similar, but you've got to hang back and get your depth right to allow the boys on your outside enough room to do their stuff.
"I've been able to run with the ball a little bit more and not have as much pressure on me at nine to direct the play."
Last weekend's 61-7 hammering at the hands of Hastings Valley indicates Pirates have some work to do to challenge the Vikings at the business end.
But Martin remained confident Pirates could cause an upset in the finals.
"The way the Vikings are playing, they have two feet in the door," he said.
"But once finals show up as the previous years have shown, it's whoever is willing to put in a full 80 minute performance that is bigger than they've done in previous games."
The battle between the ears facing Port Macquarie appears to be the biggest hurdle they will have to overcome.
"Mentality is the biggest thing," Martin said.
"A lot of the boys were shocked (last week) with (the Vikings) running straight at them."
Martin admitted his side knew what would give them the best chance at creating a finals boilover.
"Playing up the middle (against the Vikings) is the biggest factor because they like to spread out their defence the full width of the field," he said.
"So if we can do the opposite to that and run up the guts, that's where the biggest metres are."
This weekend, Pirates face Kempsey at Stuart Park with kick-off at 3.15pm.
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