A stunning try after the siren to Panthers back-rower Bryce Cartwright has stolen a win in the battle of the west at Pirtek Stadium.

Cartwright worth an Origin gamble

The name Cartwright was there when he made his Origin debut in 1989 and Blues legend Paul Sironen believes it is time to blood the next generation on the family tree in order to break Queensland's recent stranglehold.

In camp with the City Origin team for Sunday's AAMI City-Country clash in Tamworth, Sironen is helping to mentor a young group of players eager to prove that they are more than second-string representative citizens.

While Country has the likes of Boyd Cordner, James Maloney and Jack de Belin who are all capable of being named in Laurie Daley's New South Wales team for Game One, Bryce Cartwright is one of the few City players with genuine claims to a Blues jersey in 2016.

A dynamic runner of the ball with an offload that his uncle John would have been proud to call his own 20 years ago, Cartwright can turn a game on its head with a piece of individual brilliance and has been one of the Panthers' best through nine rounds.

City coach Brad Fittler is so enamoured with Cartwright's ability that he brought him into the City camp as 18th man last year after just a dozen first grade games and said this week that he thought he should have been picked in the Australian team.

Sironen, who played 14 Origins for NSW, has been similarly impressed with his rise through the ranks and believes any risk would be worth the potential reward.

"He's hit that level now," Sironen told NRL.com when asked what he needed to do to become an Origin player.

"He had some raps on him last year and he's taken his game up to that next level. He's a game-changer and doing some really good stuff at the moment.

"I kind of compare him with my young bloke Curtis when they were coming through and Bryce is allowed to get out and play a bit of footy.

"To [Panthers coach] Anthony Griffin's credit he lets him use the footy and he can pop up both sides of the ruck. There's an offload if he pulls one out, he just has to be careful with his pass selection.

"But he's got some football in him and it hasn't been coached out of him and that's one good thing."

 


Despite having Fittler and Sironen in his corner, the two stats in which Cartwright figures most prominently in the NRL may be the ones that hold him back from playing Origin in the foreseeable future.

He is ranked fifth for missed tackles in the NRL with 34 through the first nine rounds and fifth in the Telstra Premiership for offloads with 19.

With possession so critical and missed tackles amounting to Origin atrocities, Sironen acknowledges that they are two areas of the 21-year-old's game that need to be improved before being thrust into that arena.

"Origin now, I think they're scared to try that. Possession is so crucial and errors and penalties turn the game right around," Sironen said of Cartwright's offloads.

"He's said himself that he needs to work on his defence, that's important.

"Those missed tackles are crucial in Origin so you've got to make sure you're making all of them.

"That's an element that as he gets bigger and stronger that he'll clean up but he's going real well."