Cartwright: 'I was fat and lazy'
Mere hours after Bryce Cartwright's Man of the Match effort in Penrith's shock win over South Sydney last week, Panthers five-eighth Jamie Soward was dressing down his 20-year-old teammate on Sydney radio.
Voicing his first impressions of Cartwright upon his arrival at Panthers training late in 2013, Soward did not hold back.
"I saw a talented player with a famous surname who had all the skills but didn't have the effort on effort," Soward said on Triple M. "He didn't have the defence, didn't have the man body he's grown into. He was fat and he was lazy."
When NRL.com asked Cartwright about Soward's initial thoughts about him, the star back-rower laughed in agreement.
"I was in no way, shape or form to play in the NRL back then. When he first came to the club, just before I came into first grade I was definitely a bit fat and a bit lazy," Cartwright told NRL.com.
"[Jamie] took me out for a coffee and we had a chat and he just told me how much different the NRL was to the 20s and I'm still learning that now. I had to work extremely hard to get the body right and fit for the NRL. I'm still slowly getting there."
Finally finding confidence out on the field, Cartwright said he's still likely to open up to Soward when problems arise or questions need to be asked.
"Jamie and Peter Wallace are the two guys who I confide in and ask them about anything," Cartwright said.
"They have been around the game for long enough and they're very smart fellas and more importantly they are good people."
Admitting it's hard to keep himself in check at times, Cartwright credited his teammates and parents alike for helping him keep his feet on the ground – knowing full well he still has a long way to go.
A case in point was being blasted by his teammates for a lazy run in the dying stages against the Rabbitohs.
"I took the ball up pretty softly and was smashed by both the Burgess boys, which is probably 250 kilos on your body, and I was sprayed by everyone on the field," Cartwright said.
"The boys told me to have the next carry so I took that one in and I was back-slammed again, so I just have to learn I'm not out there to muck around. I backed off in the last couple of minutes [against South Sydney] and I can't afford to do that."