Tony Martin always expected Crusaders to challenge for the play-offs - otherwise he wouldn’t have agreed to join them.
Martin, 31, scored a try during his team’s crucial 30-24 success over Hull KR on Saturday which confirmed the Wrexham-based club’s place in the top eight courtesy of Castleford’s loss at St Helens.
Many followers of the game were happy to write Crusaders off at the start of the campaign following their dismal 2009, but Martin always had faith in the squad Brian Noble was assembling.
“To tell you the truth I wouldn’t sign for a club if I didn’t think they would have a realistic chance of making the play-offs,” he declared. “At the stage of my career, I am getting to the end, I don’t want to play for a side that is going to get beaten.
“I was confident. I spoke to Nobby (Noble) quite a bit before I signed about the players they were looking at signing and people they were going to bring in and I was confident we would have a realistic chance of going for that.
“That was something I was excited about, it’s quite a new club which is something I have done a few times in the past at different clubs so it was exciting, and to see it come to fruition tonight is really good.
He added: “It is fantastic, fantastic for the club and fantastic for the people of Wrexham. They are obviously really excited about it, obviously the boys are as well.
“I think for the whole group it has been a great year, for me individually I have had my things with injuries and it has been a bit frustrating, but to get back on the field and play in a game like tonight where we got such a fantastic result and we get a fantastic reward for it is just great.
“It feels really good at the moment.”
Having recorded their success over Hull KR, Crusaders were forced to endure a nervous five minutes as the match between St Helens and Castleford came to an end.
A win for Castleford would have seen Crusaders slip to ninth, and with The Racecourse Ground scoreboard showing that Terry Matterson’ side had clawed their way back from 30-12 to draw level, anxious faces stared up at the Eric Roberts Stand.
Jubilation filled the air following news that Saints had regained the lead and Martin agreed that it was a strange end to a strange evening.
“For me I just sit there and think that we can only do our job and we did our job,” he explained.
“If Castleford had beaten St Helens you would have to take your hat off to them and think that it is a fantastic result to beat St Helens in the last game at Knowsley Road.
“Fortunately for us it didn’t happen. It was a bit agonising at the end but the result went our way and we are a very happy dressing room.”
Martin was also happy to admit that the final game of the regular season summed up Crusaders’ season perfectly.
“It was up and down, up and down, nothing is ever straight forward around here!” he joked.
“It keeps us on our toes and keeps things exciting and I think that is why the group are so close.
“That is what has got us to where we are, we are a real tight knit bunch and I think you can see that on the field. We have had to deal with some adversity off the field and a few times on the field but it always keeps things exciting.”
Ever the professional, Martin finished by turning his attentions to Saturday’s meeting at Huddersfield Giants (3.45pm).
“They are a real good side, coached very well and Nathan Brown has them playing a real good style of footie and they have some real good players, so it will be another test for us. But like I say, once you get to play-off footie it’s a completely different competition,” he said.
“Everybody starts from scratch again. Anything can happen so that is something we will be relying on and something we will be talking about, and we will fancy our chances.”
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