Ivan Cleary in worrying admission about Penrith gun Liam Martin

The Penrith star's State of Origin prospects have taken another devastating blow.

Pictured left to right, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and star forward Liam Martin.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary (L) concedes the recurring hamstring injury to Liam Martin is a 'concern' and a 'mystery'. Pic: Getty

Liam Martin's State of Origin hopes have taken another devastating hit after the Panthers forward suffered a recurrence of his troublesome hamstring injury on Saturday night. The NSW forward and Kangaroos World Cup winner lasted just 34 minutes before being hooked by coach Ivan Cleary during Penrith's thrilling golden point win over Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights were the better side for much of the game but two field goals from Nathan Cleary - including the match-winner in extra time - sealed a hard-fought victory for the two-time defending NRL premiers. While the Panthers will be happy they picked up the two competition points, the victory came at a cost with Martin aggravating an ongoing hamstring issue.

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Martin was a last-minute scratching for Penrith's round four clash with Parramatta after tweaking his hamstring, but Penrith were hopeful he would return the following week. The classy edge forward's comeback continued to be a game-by-game proposition for another three weeks, with the 26-year-old's absence allowing Zac Hosking to cement his spot in Penrith's starting side.

Hosking's impressive form saw him keep a starting spot against Newcastle, taking up the opposite edge to Martin, with Scott Sorensen the player to make his way onto the Penrith interchange. However, Martin's long-awaited comeback ended in more misery and coach Ivan Cleary admitting the injury was a "mystery" after his star forward failed to finish the game.

"He's not that great, he felt it early but kept playing," the Panthers coach said. "It's a bit of a mystery, it is a concern. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of it."

Liam Martin can't shake recurring hamstring injury

Penrith's coach revealed that Martin was given the green light to return after the club's medical staff once again came to the conclusion that the hamstring injury wasn't as bad as initially thought. As has been the case in previous weeks though, the issue flared up in a frustrating setback for the defending premiers.

"(It was) the same kind of story that we've had recently where it doesn't seem that bad," Cleary said. "I'm not a medic but it's frustrating for him and frustrating for us."

Seen here, Penrith's Liam Martin is tackled during the round two NRL clash against South Sydney.
Penrith's Liam Martin is tackled during the round two NRL clash against South Sydney. Pic: Getty (Cameron Spencer via Getty Images)

Martin has played only two-and-a-half games so far this season and his latest setback surely jeopardises the edge forward's chances of being selected for Brad Fittler's Blues Origin squad. The Panthers have five games before the Origin series kicks off with Game I at Adelaide Oval on May 31.

The 26-year-old is among a handful of players to have capitalised on the Panthers' strong club form to become a stalwart of the Blues' set-up in recent seasons. Panthers and Blues five-eighth Jarome Luai said Martin's mental wellbeing was of primary concern given the frustrating nature of his injury.

"I'm not really worried about Origin, I'm just worried about his wellbeing," Luai told AAP. "It's hard. Most of this game is mental.

"It might be affecting him now off the field. Those hamstrings are hard to contain. It might feel good one session and then feel bad the next. As a mate, I want to look after him."

Martin played on Luai's left edge during his injury-hit return on Saturday night against the brave Knights. The Penrith five-eighth says he's confident his teammate will be able to overcome his hamstring issues and return to the fold sooner rather than later.

"I've been back very early with a lot of my injuries, maybe it's working for me and I can pass on some tips," Luai joked. "We know Marto. We know he's resilient and he'll be back out there in no time."

with AAP

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