Penrith Panthers forward Bryce Cartwright has been granted an immediate release from the club to link with the Gold Coast Titans.
The release was finalised on Saturday, allowing Cartwright to join the Titans on a four-year deal.
NRL.com reported on Wednesday that the Panthers had told Cartwright that he needed to return to top form in the 2018 Telstra Premiership or risk being asked to look for another club.
However, it’s understood Cartwright wanted a fresh start after an emotionally draining 2017 with off-field issues plaguing his life.
The 23-year-old second-rower has experienced a turbulent past couple of seasons due to injuries, off-field issues and up-and-down form.
Gold Coast are coached by former Panthers lower-grade mentor Garth Brennan, who has played a large part in Cartwright’s development through the ranks at Penrith.
“It’s obviously disappointing to be releasing a player like Bryce Cartwright, however, we appreciate his desire to seek such a change,” Panthers executive general manager Phil Gould said.
“We hope that this move proves successful for Bryce, both on and off the field.
“Hopefully sometime in the future, he finds his way back to Panthers.
“We wish Bryce and his young family all the very best.”
Cartwright, 23, was contracted with the Panthers until the end of the 2020 season but has battled injuries and personal issues in the past 18 months.
He played 69 games for the Panthers since making his NRL debut in 2014 and is the third player to link with Brennan at the Titans following on from Leilani Latu and Mitch Rein.
“I’ve known Bryce since he was 17 and I’m so pleased that we can work together again,” Brennan said.
“I’ve seen him develop over the past seven years and I believe he is one of the most skilful players I’ve seen on a football field.
“He is a massive signing for the club and we look forward to seeing him in Titans colours.”