The reinvention of Bryce Cartwright is far from complete but the Titans back-rower's improved fitness and attitude has been given the thumbs up by former Gold Coast assistant coach Trevor Gillmeister.
Gillmeister, who helped the defensive techniques of several players last year on a consultancy basis, is set to continue that role in 2019 when called on by coach Garth Brennan.
It was the progress in Cartwright that caught Gillmeister's eye as the former Panther aims to return to the form that led to him being on the cusp of NSW selection in 2016.
After joining the Titans last February, the 24-year-old had an underwhelming season which saw him dropped to Intrust Super Cup side Tweed Heads.
Brennan did not lose faith in Cartwright but wanted to see a marked pre-season improvement from a player who was one of his marquee signings in 2018.
Titans captain Ryan James recently told NRL.com how Cartwright had been a regular at extra running sessions in the off-season. The results of that, and his continued progress, was noted by Gillmeister.
Five key matchups of the Titans' 2019 draw
"Bryce got to the Titans really late last pre-season but he looks remarkably fitter than he did when I saw him last year. I could see at training that he was talking a lot more on the field and was involved a lot more in the plays," Gillmeister told NRL.com.
"If you aren't fit you can't do that. I was just impressed with his all-round talk and his confidence. I didn't see a lot of their training sessions last year but when I did he looked quiet and in his shell.
"It would be a big plus for the Gold Coast and for Bryce personally if he can get back to where everyone thinks he can [be] and hopes he can."
Brennan said Cartwright had further to go but noted he was headed in the right direction.
"Bryce is in the best shape I’ve ever seen him, and that's fitness-wise, his headspace and with his talk," he told NRL.com.
"Whether that translates onto the field, who knows, but he is doing everything he possibly can to put himself in the position to make that happen.
"It is small steps. He has got a long way to go to come from where he was last year to being the Bryce Cartwright we know he can be, so it is not going to happen overnight. So long as he can keep improving it is only going to be better for the Titans."
Gillmeister said Cartwright needed to focus on the mundane, not the marvellous, in 2019.
"Everyone talks about his brilliant skills and his offload but he doesn't have to be the superstar that sets up a try and wins the game every week," Gillmeister said.
"Garth will be looking for him to just do his job and his role in the team. It sounds boring and cliched but that is all he has to do."