The nerves that go with moving to a new club and city are all but gone and Bryce Cartwright insists he has “no regrets at all” about joining Gold Coast despite an up-and-down start to the year.
The 23-year-old former Panther spoke to NRL.com at the team hotel in Gladstone after playing his best game as a Titan in the win over Manly on Sunday - a game where he did the hard yards first, and the freaky second.
"The first couple of rounds I was a bit nervous coming into the weeks and I was going out there and trying to create something out of nothing," Cartwright said.
"[Against Manly] I was a lot more relaxed and coming off the bench I just wanted to run hard and tackle hard.
"I didn’t play much footy last year and it feels like I am starting back at square one. Coming into a new team, I am a bit nervous around the boys still and I am still getting to know them.
"It will take time but I felt like there was a lot of improvement out there."
A heart-to-heart with coach Garth Brennan after he played just one minute against the Broncos the previous week cleared Cartwright's head.
"I spoke to Brenno all week and he kept reassuring me and telling me to keep it simple and do my job and good things would come from that," he said.
"He said not worry about creating things because we have Kane Elgey and Ash Taylor who can do the amazing things."
Cartwright has a penchant for doing the "amazing" himself and unfurled with a crucial flick pass to send Jai Arrow over when the game was in the balance in the first half.
"As Garth says, I need to know when to pull the trigger," Cartwright said.
"When I am tired I get into a habit where I don’t think and I just try for the pretty option, but when I learn to carry the ball strongly and tackle hard the rest will come.
"For me, it is all about going out and getting a feel for the game rather than trying something fancy straight away."
Cartwright said there were three “hardest things” about his move to the Gold Coast after a season at Penrith that was tough both on and off the field.
For 23 years, the St Marys junior had lived in his family home in Sydney's west where his younger brother Ben, one of his best mates, was a constant and reassuring presence. On Sunday he will return to Penrith for the round-six clash with the Panthers.
"I grew up playing with a lot of those boys at Penrith and I made some great friendships down there," he said.
"I miss them a lot and I still keep in touch. Actually, the hardest thing was probably leaving my parents. I haven’t been away from them since I was born, apart from me and my partner moving out for six months when she was pregnant.
"They were on holidays when the move up here happened and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to them either. I went a month without seeing them, the longest I hadn’t seen them in my life. They came up for round one and it was good to see them after the game."
Cartwright and partner Shanelle Peeti welcomed a young son Koa into the world in January and having them around "made it a hell of a lot easier to come up here".
"I fell in love with the place straight away. There are no regrets at all."
Brennan and Cartwright are close but the Titans forward said his mentor was no soft touch just because of their long-standing connection.
"Garth doesn’t baby me at all," he said.
"He is straight up and tells me what he needs from me, but he also gives you that sense that he cares for you. He loves each and every one of his players and is so passionate about what he does. That is why I think so highly of him because he gets that passion across to his players. He is a great coach and an even better bloke."
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