Te Maire Martin of the Panthers.
Te Maire Martin of the Panthers. PAUL MILLER

Cowboys make shock move to sign Panthers playmaker

THE Cowboys are set to pull off a shock mid-season signing in securing out-of-favour Panthers playmaker Te Maire Martin.

Martin is on the verge of leaving Penrith to link with North Queensland before the June 30 deadline after being unable to crack the Panthers' NRL side.

The 21-year-old New Zealand product was widely tipped to head across the Tasman to the Warriors after only managing seven NRL games this season under Anthony Griffin.

He had also attracted interest from Super League outfits keen to lure the former under-20s star overseas.

However the Cowboys are in the box seat to secure Martin as they ramp up preparations for life after Johnathan Thurston.

The Cowboys made a mid-season play for Tui Lolohea, however he ended up leaving the Warriors for Wests Tigers.

In Martin, the Cowboys would have a long-term prospect who could form a scrumbase alliance with Michael Morgan once Thurston departs at the end of 2018.

Martin would also provide crucial depth in the halves for North Queensland's 2017 premiership campaign.

Cowboys utility Ray Thompson has performed admirably in the absence of Thurston at times this season but could be forced into retirement at the end of the season because of a chronic knee injury.

News Corp Australia

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