Cartwright fit and raring to go

Cartwright fit and raring to go
Bryce Cartwright : Auckland 9’s Rugby League Tournament, Eden Park Auckland. Saturday February 6th, 2016. Digital Image shot on Canon EOS1DX by Robb Cox © NRL Photos

After suffering back-to-back season-ending injuries to start his NRL career, Bryce Cartwright is fully fit and ready to help Panthers return to the top eight.  

A horrific ankle injury in 2014 was followed by a lacerated kidney last season, with one doctor telling the Penrith young-gun that he may never play contact sport again. 

Cartwright showed no effects of his recent injuries at training on Tuesday morning, and looks set to help the Panthers bounce back from a disappointing 2015.  

After going within one game of a grand final berth in 2014, the Panthers narrowly avoided the wooden spoon last season thanks to a final round win over the Knights. Cartwright is hoping a solid pre-season will be the key to helping his side return to the heights of two years ago. 

"Training is done. We’ve done all the yards. Now I just can’t wait to get out on the field and play," Cartwright told NRL.com.

"Our consistency wasn’t the best last year. I think if we can put a few wins on the board early and keep everyone out on the field for long periods of time, then that’ll go a long way to get us back to where we were in 2014."

**SECURE YOUR SEAT FOR PANTHERS V BULLDOGS AT PEPPER STADIUM**

Cartwright has been an attacking powerhouse since making his NRL debut in 2014, finishing last season with an NRL best 57 offloads, and producing his best game when given the chance to play the full 80 minutes against South Sydney in Round 17, running for 227 metres.

Injuries to key personnel in 2015 meant Cartwright was shuffled around the starting side, but the former NYC Team of the Year member has made it clear to new coach Anthony Griffin where he wants to play in 2016. 

"We sat down and had a few chats. He’s fine with my attack and the way I play. It’s just about getting my defence right and consistency being the key," Cartwright said. 

"That’s a massive goal of mine to be able to play 80, and to be able to play a good 80 minutes. It might not happen straight away because we’ve got a lot of good back-rowers, but it’s something I’ll aim to do.

"I’ll be starting this weekend, and I’m excited about ripping in against Canberra. I definitely want to be in the back row, particularly on the right edge. That’s my favoured position, but wherever I can help the team out I’m happy to play."

Cartwright has been named in the back row to face the Raiders on Saturday alongside Isaah Yeo, with Trent Merrin at lock. With Tyrone Peachey and Elijah Taylor on the bench, Penrith will head into their season-opener against the big Canberra forwards with one of the most mobile packs in the competition. 

"It’s going to be a tough game. They’re a big team, and I think they’re skilful as well. It’s going to be hot there, so I think we’ll have to keep the ball in play and run their big boys around."

This article first appeared on NRL.com.

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