Penrith coach Ivan Cleary says he’ll have no problems keeping a lid on the extra publicity surrounding his pool of prodigious NRL talent – because they’ve been through it all before.
Boom second-rower Bryce Cartwright admitted earlier this week that he found himself believing in his own hype last year after a successful debut season that was cut short by a season-ending injury.
Fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak earned a spot in New Zealand’s Four Nations side after an impressive season before he too spent the summer sitting idly on the sidelines.
Cartwright, 20, took out man-of-the-match honours last Friday night in a breakout performance against defending premiers South Sydney.
His blistering form has even caught the attention of Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who this week identified the nephew of Panthers legend John as a major threat when the two teams meet on Saturday night.
But Cleary said Cartwright is now well-equipped to handle the ups and downs of life in the NRL.
“They all get big raps. Dallin as well,” Cleary said.
“All our young guys seem to attract a lot of attention and raps. That’s part of the learning.
“In fairness, they would’ve all got that last year. All these raps that he’s now getting, he’s probably used to it.
“His head’s probably got a little bit smaller and dealing with it better.”
Cartwright, who played the full 80 minutes for the first time against the Rabbitohs, admitted he was “fat and lazy” when he made his first grade debut.
But Cleary said he has been pleased with his development, particularly over the last six weeks.
“He’s on the radar of everyone a bit more these days,” he said.
“He’s starting the matches (and) played 80 minutes last week, so he’s developing nicely.
“But there’s parts to his game that he still needs to get better at, which he will.”