Carty Jnr ready to assume Dad's position
He may have spent his entire junior football career in the backline but outstanding Titans prospect Jed Cartwright says he has no fears of his father's shadow after being named to play in the second row for the Titans under-20s on Sunday.
Reeling from the loss of workhorse Shane Wright to a shoulder injury suffered in the team's final trial against the Broncos, Titans coach Ben Woolf has named Cartwright alongside Canberra recruit Morgan Boyle in the second row.
After a pre-season spent with the NRL squad Brian Kelly and Greg Leleisiuao have been named in the centres with Storm signing Kurt Bernard adding plenty of size up front.
The son of former Panthers, Blues and Kangaroos legend John Cartwright, 19-year-old Jed also spent the pre-season under the watchful eye of Titans head coach Neil Henry and in the past 12 months has added a staggering 14 kilograms to his 195-centimetre frame.
With cousin Bryce Cartwright tipped for big things at the Panthers this season genetics suggested Jed too would end up in the forwards, a move he is now embracing after a junior career spent in the centres and at five-eighth.
"I try and separate myself from that (comparisons with his father) and try and be the best that I can be and separate myself from his name," Cartwright told NRL.com.
"It's good having him there because he teaches me a lot and I've learnt a lot from him.
"Even though I was playing in the centres last year I think I was sort of playing like a back-rower. I never really played like a centre.
"I've put on a fair bit of weight. I was playing at about 90 kilos last year and at the moment I'm about 103-104. When I got my [ankle] surgery it gave me time to get in the gym and do some upper body weights and build up. Then when I came back I started to build up my legs when I could start doing leg weights again and it just packed on.
"Right now I'd probably rather be in the back row. It's a little bit more suited to me now that I've put on a bit more size but if I have to play in the centres I won't argue with that."
Given his skill set Woolf expects it to be a smooth transition for Cartwright, his work in defence the most challenging aspect of the switch.
"The way he carries the ball will suit it," Woolf said. "He probably carries the ball like a back-rower anyway, he knows how to run a nice line on the edge there but defence is going to be the key.
"With the eight interchanges the back-rowers are probably going to have to play 80 [minutes] so he'll have to learn to play 80, to be effective for 80, getting the fine details of helping his half out in defence.
"As opposed to just making the tackles on his centre he's got a bit more control in his edge role defensively so that's going to be the biggest challenge for him."
After eight years at the helm of the Titans John Cartwright moved to Townsville to be a key member of the Cowboys' coaching staff last season and is now working as an assistant under Trent Barrett at Manly.
It has meant that Jed's access to his father's advice has not been as freely available as in the past but says he played a crucial role in his comeback from ankle surgery.
"It's been a little bit hard because I've been used to him being around all the time but it's not too bad. We talk on the phone most days and he gives me little pointers," said Jed.
"When I was getting a little bit down and my ankle was playing up in the pre-season, he'd tell me little things like it would get better and to keep working hard, keep training hard and my opportunity will come.
"My mum's pretty good with that stuff and she talks footy but he's been there and done it all so it's just good to hear it from him."
Although the back row is one of the positions where the Titans are well stocked, Jed has his eye on an NRL debut in 2016 and knows the importance of an improved season for the Titans' Holden Cup team.
"I am really excited about the 20s this year. Hopefully we can get in that top eight and see how we go from there," said Jed of a 20s team that has failed to qualify for the finals since 2010.
"We need our team to be going well so it makes us look a little bit better. Hopefully then if we're going well in the 20s we get a crack at Queensland Cup and see how we go there and then it all just depends on how first grade is going and injuries and stuff like that.
"Definitely want to give myself the best opportunity to play first grade if I can."