Bulldogs forward and north Queenslander Rhyse Martin has returned from a mercy dash to flood-stricken Townsville, having spent a brief break from training going door to door handing out supplies.
Last weekend, Martin flew up to Townsville with what he estimates was around 180 kilograms of emergency supplies – including roughly 160 litres of vinegar to help with a mould infestation – to try and help residents recover from the recent devastating floods.
Speaking at a Bulldogs primary school visit in Milperra on Wednesday, the Cairns-born back-rower – who has plenty of family in Townsville – said it was incredibly sad to see what the floodwaters had done to the homes and farms in the region.
"Everyone's having to clear out their houses, everything inside is pretty much gone and the mould is starting to take over," Martin said.
"People are starting to get sick from the mould which isn't good.
"I took a heap of cleaning supplies. We got told to take up a lot of vinegar to get rid of the mould so that was the main thing. A lot of people were getting their houses inundated.
"I think we took 160 litres up plus rubbish bags, other cleaning stuff, disinfectant, baby formula, clothing supplies. There was a fair bit. Gift vouchers too, a lot of people donated."
A local contact helped the PNG international transport the huge load up north.
"A friend of mine is manager of Townsville airport so she contacted Virgin and they let me take everything. They were happy to help out and put everything on the plane as excess baggage free of charge," Martin said.
"I think I took about 180 kilos total. They were really good to help out that way."
Once he got up there another local contact meant Martin was able to ride with the local fire brigade going door to door.
"When I got up there the water had pretty much gone down and everyone was back getting things out of their house," he continued.
"My friend in Townsville has a friend in the fire brigade so I just jumped in one of the trucks and went around with those guys. We went door knocking one area at a time, had a few crews going street to street then we'd all meet up and go to a different area."
Martin's family fortunately lived up high enough to be spared the worst of it but he felt for those who weren't so lucky.
"I was in contact with my brothers and my dad making sure they were OK and safe," he said.
"My brother lives right along the river up there so I was worried he was going to get washed out but they were pretty lucky, they were up high enough that they didn't but a lot of other people lost everything and it was very sad."
The club gave Martin the Monday off training as a result of his mercy dash before he was back into it for an opposed session against Wests Tigers on Tuesday.
Martin made a huge impact in his 14 NRL games last year with his attacking skills and deadly goalkicking but he didn't believe he was guaranteed a start in the back row in 2019 following the recruitment of Corey Harawira-Naera and Sauaso Sue plus the return from injury of Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
"It's really up to the coach [Dean Pay] but the good thing is we have healthy competition in that spot," Martin said.
"It's pushing me to be a better player and pushing the other boys too.
"Dean's pretty much told everyone it's up to them, if they're playing good football they'll get the job, no one's safe and I don't expect that."