Bryce Cartwright has declared himself ready for the State of Origin cauldron despite his defensive frailties almost costing Penrith their NRL win over South Sydney on Friday.
The second-rower turned five-eighth put in a blue-chip attacking performance that exuded confidence in the Panthers’ 28-26 win over the Rabbitohs, finishing with three try assists, a linebreak, two linebreak assists and six offloads.
And while the Panthers young gun was at his brilliant best with ball in hand, a couple of defensive mishaps would have coach Laurie Daley second guessing whether to blood him during the July 13 dead rubber at ANZ Stadium.
His decision to race out of the line on Cody Walker almost cost them a try and he was shown up badly by Greg Inglis as the Rabbitohs skipper crossed for a key four-pointer early in the second half.
His defensive frailties have been his Achilles heel his entire career and he came up with six missed tackles at Pepper Stadium against the Bunnies.
He got his first taste of Origin as 18th man during game two, an experience that whet his appetite for the game’s biggest stage.
And with Laurie Daley under pressure to blood the Blues’ generation next for game three, he promised he wouldn’t let his state down.
“I really wanted to play (Origin II) after the warm up, my heart was beating so fast,” Cartwright told AAP.
“Fingers crossed it comes sooner rather than later.
“I’ve seen what it’s like, I’ve been in camp.
“If I get the call up then I’ll be ready to go. I’d love to play.”
Penrith coach Anthony Griffin was reluctant to comment on whether Cartwright could handle the Origin arena, but predicted it would be a boon for his confidence and ability.
“I don’t think it’d hurt,” Griffin said when asked how Origin representation would affect Cartwright’s game.
“I thought one of the real highlights for us tonight was our captain (Matt Moylan) came back and Josh Mansour came back.
“We needed a big club performance tonight and those two guys are what we want to continue to build this club on.”