Bryce Cartwright can be a star at lock for the Gold Coast Titans if he bases his game on doing the hard yards early in a game before unleashing his unquestioned attacking brilliance, insists former Penrith Panthers lock Scott Sattler.
Sattler, who played lock in the Panthers’ premiership-winning 2003 grand final where he will forever remembered for his try-saving tackle on Roosters winger Todd Byrne, said Cartwright’s big challenge was not getting too cute too soon in a game.
Titans coach Garth Brennan played the 23-year-old former Panther in the number 13 jersey in Saturday’s 20-14 trial loss to the Warriors where he did most of his work in the middle
Sattler said that in attack Cartwright was best suited to playing as “as an old school roving lock who can appear down a short side or on an edge”, but he added that Brennan’s decision to play him more in the middle had its benefits.
“I am sure there is a method to Garth’s madness of playing Bryce in the middle,” Sattler told NRL.com.
“He can get in the middle, realise how tough it is and get his body battle hardened again because Carty has been in a bad place for the last six months.
“Bryce needs to work his way into a game with an aggressive mentality rather than with a finesse mentality.
“As a ball-playing lock you have to base your game around defence firstly, and then around receiving contact early, and then the game opens up and you can see the game from a completely different perspective.
“Once he’s done that, Bryce is a player where you can say ‘keep your head up, follow your halves, when your halves go down jump in as the second half, jump down the short side, work angles and do your little short tip-ons’.”
Sattler said his own approach to playing as a ball-playing lock had lessons for Cartwright, who has a far bigger frame in comparison.
“You don’ t pass the ball until you get tackled two or three times first, and you ease your way into a game that way,” Sattler said.
“I was played as a second ball receiver, I’d do tip-ons and do angles, work short sides and back up the halves, and I was a big support player for the front-rowers on the first two tackles.
“Initially you take the line on, crash into them and get a feel for the game. That’s what Bryce need to do.”
Cartwright played 70 minutes at lock in the loss to the Warriors and Brennan said he was still finding his feet.
“Especially playing in the middle,” Brennan said.
“He hasn’t played 13 for long periods of time before. He’s been mainly on an edge. It is all right attack-wise to play in the middle but that comes with defensive loads as well.
“He worked hard and there were some areas he still needs to work on, but I thought he did some good things. It was a big ask to play 70 minutes in the middle.”
It that hardened edge that Brennan is trying to instill in Cartwright and Sattler said the giant forward needed to acquire that penchant for hard work to go with his undoubted flair.
“You don’t lose the ability to play and Bryce will never lose the ability to be a very special player, but for him it is about altering his game so that it is appropriate for the NRL,” Sattler said.
“A lot of the Penrith players who have come through that under 20s system need to get out of that mentality where they are all superstars, and get in the NRL mentality where not everything comes easy.”