Panthers five-eighth Bryce Cartwright says he is ready to hand playmaking duties back to injured young-gun Te Maire Martin as soon as the latter is ready to return to first grade duties following a shoulder injury.
It has been a year of significant change at the foot of the mountains, with senior men Jamie Soward and James Segeyaro granted releases to move to the UK Super League, Peter Wallace making a successful shift to hooker and boom young playmakers Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin stamping themselves as stars of the future.
With Martin out injured – he hasn't played since suffering a shoulder fracture in Round 8 – back-rower Bryce Cartwright has slotted in at five-eighth and enjoyed considerable success.
Though he's been far from perfect the team has looked more dangerous with him getting his hands on the ball more in the halves. However with Martin seen sharing kicking drills with Cleary at Penrith training on Monday morning, the former Junior Kiwi is expected back on the field in reserve grade as soon as this weekend with a first grade return not far away.
Cartwright said as soon as that happens he expects to revert to his back row role and he has no complaints.
"When he's fit I think he'll definitely be back in the team, he was playing some great footy when he was there and that will make my job a lot easier pushing back into the forwards and it will be a pretty smooth transition," Cartwright said of Martin.
Hard to see but that's Te Maire Martin having a kick round with Nathan Cleary. Chance of reserve grade this weekend pic.twitter.com/VIc1nKQj8W— Chris Kennedy (@CKennedy80) July 25, 2016
Cartwright said he had enjoyed getting his hands on the ball more since switching to the halves, though with an extra ball-player in the side and plenty of ball-playing forwards on deck he doesn't expect the point-scoring opportunities to dry up any time soon.
"It will be exciting to see those two young fellas play together and it's something I've wanted to watch for a while now, so I'm looking forward to when he gets back," Cartwright added.
Fullback and captain Matt Moylan doesn't expect to be donning the No.6 jersey for the club any time soon despite a relatively successful shift there in Origin III, and the skipper was noncommittal on Martin's short-term role in the side.
He said Cartwright had been good in the role and had arguably his best game there in the team's dominant 25-12 win over the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium last Friday.
"When he's taking the line on and playing a bit squarer he's just showing his class there. He's a big man to stop and when he's threatening that line it adds another dimension to us as a team," Moylan said of Cartwright.
As to Martin's short term chances, Moylan added: "I'm not too sure, I think he's not too far off. It's only going to help us when he is back. There's a bit of competition there for spots but I'm not sure when he's back playing."
Moylan added Martin's return shouldn't result in Cartwright being pigeon-holed into one area of the field.
"[Cartwright] is one of those players you want him playing on both sides of the field, you don't really want to stick him on an edge and limit what he can do in a game.
"I'm not sure what will happen with all that sort of stuff but you want a guy like Bryce getting his hands on the ball and getting involved."
If anything, the return of Martin could add another dimension to what is a rapidly improving Panthers attack, according to the skipper.
"Just having another ball player in there or someone that's going to threaten the line could help us out a bit more but still not sure what will happen there or when 'T' is back," Moylan said.