Titans rookie Paul Carter is being groomed for an NRL bench spot having been named at hooker for Sunday's trial against the Warriors. Credit: Courtesy Titans Media Copyright: Courtesy Titans Media
You'll have to excuse Paul Carter if he sometimes forgets who he is.
If he is not being compared with his father – Panthers premiership-winner Steve Carter – he is being talked about as Greg Bird's twin; a nuggety, ferocious 'Mini Birdy'.
And having spent the majority of his young football career in the back row, Titans coach John Cartwright is hoping to bring out a new level of versatility in his game by starting Carter at hooker in Sunday's trial against the Warriors.
With Beau Falloon, Matt Srama and Sam Irwin all on the injured list at present, Carter has been handed a golden opportunity to prove that he can handle both positions and be a handy weapon for the Titans off the bench when the Titans open their premiership campaign on March 10.
"I'm enjoying playing a bit of hooker, it's something different for me, but I've got a lot of good help and support around me which is making things easier," Carter said.
"There are a few boys out with injury so there's a bit of an opportunity for me to grab there so I guess it helps being able to play a few different positions.
"It's always good to keep your options open. My preferred position is lock/second row but I'm happy to play where the team needs me and just do the job, wherever it may be."
They may play in different positions and Paul's build would dwarf that of Steve's in his record 242 games for the Panthers but Cartwright – a teammate of Steve's for the best part of a decade – says that father and son do share some common traits.
"They're basically the same sort of make-up. They play in different positions but very aggressive and don't like losing, so that's a good trait to have," Cartwright said.
"They're cast from the same mould, that's for sure."
Titans teammates have been quick to make the comparison between Carter and Bird and as the Gold Coast co-captain provided some gentle heckling in the background, the 21-year-old admitted that he has been influenced by the way in which Bird plays.
"Growing up I admired guys like 'Birdy' and they play very aggressive so that's always been a big part of my game," Carter said. "I don't know if I pride myself on [my aggression]; I guess it just takes over when I get out there. I like to mix it up and get amongst it.
"I don't know what it is really, just the way I play the game."
But for now Carter is busy learning a new position and spotting up on his combination with former Bulldogs NYC teammate Aidan Sezer.
"It's about not over-thinking it and just doing my role for the team and not trying to overplay my hand," said Carter, whose first and only game to date as a starting hooker was in the Bulldogs under-20s Preliminary Final against the Warriors in 2010. "Just defend well and give good service and do my job for the team.
"I've been doing a lot of [passing practice], extras after training and getting used to passing off the ground because it's a lot different and I've had to do a lot of extra stuff to help me out but I'm getting used to it.
"I've been doing a little bit of kicking here and there, just to take a bit of the pressure off Aidan. Obviously he's a pretty dominant kicker and kicks well and other teams know that so it would be helpful if I could keep working on my kicking game and take a bit of pressure off him."