Bryce Cartwright has quit the Panthers on the eve of the NRL season to head to the Gold Coast.Gold Coast boss Graham Annesley says he is happy to back the gut instinct of his rookie NRL coach Garth Brennan and offer troubled Penrith star Bryce Cartwright a lifeline at the Titans.
Cartwright has left Penrith effective immediately and will arrive next week on the Gold Coast on a four-season deal, reported to be close to $3 million.
A member of one of the Panthers’ great rugby league families, he will link with his former under-20s coach at the Titans, despite having four years left to run on his contract.
Cartwright has endured a difficult 12 months of media scrutiny relating to off-field matters in Sydney, and it’s understood they have taken their toll on the 23-year-old and prompted his departure from the city.
Brennan has built a workmanlike spirit at the club since arriving in October, with the Titans CEO happy to take a punt on Cartwright on the advice of his first-year coach.
“Garth has known him since he was a 17, coached him right through the lower grades and is absolutely confident he’s got the character required to do well here,” Annesley told AAP.
“He’s young and has a chance to be a big part of this club’s future.”
Annesley said the deal was negotiated by new Titans head of football Phil Moss, despite him not officially starting at the club until Monday.
It comes just three months after fellow Panthers star junior Matt Moylan had been released to join Cronulla, also part-way through a contract that would have expired in 2021.
It also casts doubt over the proposed acquisition of fellow Panthers utility Tyrone Peachey, who has been linked to a move to the Titans in 2019.
“It’s obviously disappointing to be releasing a player like Bryce Cartwright, however, we appreciate his desire to seek such a change,” Panthers general manager Phil Gould said.
“We hope that this move proves successful for Bryce, both on and off the field.
“Hopefully, some time in the future, he finds his way back to the Panthers. We wish Bryce and his young family all the very best.”
Cartwright played 69 games for Penrith since making his debut in 2014, scoring 12 tries.
His uncle John, who won a premiership with Penrith in 1991, was the Titans’ inaugural coach but left the club in 2014.
Brennan praised the utility, hoping to mould him into a State of Origin and Test star.
“I’ve seen him develop over the past seven years and I believe he is one of the most-skilful players I’ve seen on a football field,” Brennan said.
“He is a massive signing for the club and I look forward to seeing him in Titans colours.”
Cartwright will join former Panthers teammates Mitch Rein and Leilani Latu this season at the Titans.