Calls for Bryce Cartwright to be handed his NSW Origin debut reached fever pitch after he produced a brilliant yet sturdy performance in City’s 44-30 win over Country on Saturday.
The Blues’ greatest ever players Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns have called for the Penrith young gun to be receive a representative call up after a his dynamic start to the NRL season and his man of the match display against Country in Tamworth on Sunday.
Cartwright bamboozled the Country defence with a seemingly limitless trick bag of flick passes, clever kicks and deft offloads.
However, after being roundly criticised for his defence throughout his career, was rock solid in the line – a fact which most pleased City coach Fittler.
After resolving to fix his defensive frailties this year, he worked diligently through the off-season with Panthers coach Anthony Griffin and the Panthers’ representative forward Trent Merrin.
“I felt good last year at the back end of the year and then in the trials it wasn’t where it needed to be,” Cartwright said.
“It took me a good month or so to start laying a good platform and it’s come along nicely now.”
On Sunday, Johns called for the 21-year-old back-rower to be included in the Australian 21-man squad for the end-of-year Four Nations.
While Fittler reiterated his call that Cartwright should have been playing for Australia in Friday’s trans-Tasman Test against New Zealand instead of turning out at Scully Park on Sunday.
Fittler said he never mentioned attack to Cartwright during the build up and asked him to simply focus on not missing any tackles.
And after coming up with just one miss from 28 tackles against Country, Fittler said Cartwright’s performance was proof he was ready for the next step.
“I’m not the (NSW) coach but he never missed a tackle and he set up about 14 tries,” Fittler said.
“He’s very hard to contain.”