Big-name Gold Coast Titans recruit Bryce Cartwright has revealed that along with a need for a “fresh start”, his slide down the Penrith Panthers pecking order was a key catalyst in his headline-grabbing move from the club synonymous with his famous surname.
Speaking for the first time after Penrith granted him a release to join his old junior coach Garth Brennan on the holiday strip, Cartwright said the chance to escape Sydney’s fishbowl drove his shock off-season switch.
While stressing he and Penrith coach Anthony Griffin maintain a “great relationship”, Cartwright did confirm whispers he was on the outer as far as the Panthers’ first-choice line-up was concerned, with the Titans offering a chance for him to get back to his favoured lock position and best football as a result.
“There’s a lot of competition for back-row spots in [the Panthers] squad,” Cartwright told reporters on Friday when asked whether he felt he remained at the forefront of Griffin’s selection plans.
“I was playing in the halves – it’s not somewhere I wanted to play – I think I’m better suited to the back row.
“I thought if I stay here I’m not going to get as much time on the field. If I’m going to improve as a player (the Gold Coast) is the place I need to be.”
Earlier this week Brennan declared Cartwright would start at lock – where he trained in his first hit-out on Friday – and assured off-contract pivot Kane Elgey that the No.6 jersey remained his.
Cartwright also revealed he first fielded a suggestion of the move from Brennan as early as last October, with the idea gaining momentum for the 23-year-old when he and his partner had their first child recently.
“Garth was probably the biggest factor coming up here,” Cartwright said.
“I’ve known Garth since I was 16 or 17. He debuted me in the (under) 20s and we had close relationship at Penrith. I’m really excited to play footy with him again.
“That and getting out of Sydney with me and my family; (the Gold Coast) is great place to raise a young family.”