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Carter proves to be rare breed

After 10 weeks in the top grade Paul Carter has proven that he belongs in the very best company. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
You couldn't blame the Broncos for trying.

A young bloke thrust into another new role in his rookie NRL season and giving up almost as much in size as he does in experience, it's only natural for the opposition to test his mettle to its fullest.

The thing is, though, Paul Carter arrived at the Titans NRL-ready and with impeccable family bloodlines to boot. The son of a former Panthers legend who couldn't crack first grade at the Bulldogs has spent the past 10 weeks convincing teammates and pundits alike that he has a long career ahead of him, taking another giant step after being battered from pillar to post by the Broncos on Friday night.

"You don't know how good they're going to be until you give them an opportunity," said Gold Coast coach John Cartwright, a former Penrith teammate of Paul's father, Steve.

"He's been doing that sort of stuff in under-20s and NSW Cup over the last couple of years but whether they have the confidence to do it straight away in first grade, that's really difficult to do.

"Not many can do it but he's done it. He's a bit of a character, he doesn't hold a lot of fear for anything and that's how he plays."

There are few harder competitors in the game today than Titans co-captain Nate Myles and he was full of admiration for the way the 21-year-old handled a forced shift into the halves following the injury to Aidan Sezer and the concentration of Broncos ball-runners towards his 180cm and 98kg frame.

"He's a goer man. Don't get me wrong he has that ability to do some pretty crazy stuff as you can see but he's a goer and that's what we love about him," Myles said following the 22-8 defeat to the Broncos.

"Credit to him too to be able to play a couple of different roles there and they were actually calling him out to spot him up and he didn't take a backward step."

In the course of 80 minutes Carter went from being a starting lock to filling in in the halves to moving out to play a role as an edge back-rower having got the opportunity to make his first grade debut at hooker.

He epitomises the type of courage that the Titans have displayed to record six wins through 10 rounds of the competition but despite his limited exposure to the top grade even he recognises that can only take you so far.

"Earlier in the year we had to show the same courage and attitude that we did tonight, we just had the players on the end of it such as Birdy and Albert Kelly on the end of that effort which makes it easier," Carter told NRL.com.

"Tonight we missed those senior players and a bit of spark; we've got to be a lot smarter than what we were tonight. The effort and courage was there but we can't rely on that every week."

It's a sentiment echoed by Myles who said that being tough in the NRL isn't enough on its own to record wins against the better teams.

"There was never a question about our boys' efforts but we can't keep relying on our effort and our scramble," Myles said. "We had the troops there to do it tonight. 

"Even with the boys we lost during the game I thought we had the side there to do it. Probably just a little bit of execution towards the end there, we weren't completing our sets and that's when the Broncos started playing better footy.

"We knew we could do it but we're probably falling into that effort and courage too much. The good sides don't come out and just rely on that, the good sides come out and rely on their football.

"There was some good footy there tonight from us which was great to see but definitely our execution and completion is letting us down. We do that we're a different side again."

With Origin teams to be selected early next week, co-captain Greg Bird still out suspended and Aidan Sezer facing an extended layoff it shapes as another disrupted preparation for next Saturday's clash with the Warriors.

But after 10 weeks there is one thing that coach Cartwright knows for certain: Paul Carter can handle anything that the NRL throws at him.
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