Cartwright added to Panthers dynasty
If your last name is Cartwright and you're from Sydney's golden west then chances are you will likely one day represent the Penrith Panthers.
That's the goal for the club's latest recruit as Jed Cartwright hopes to emulate his grandfather Merv, father John, uncles David, Cliff and Michael, and cousin Bryce by pulling on the famed black jersey.
The Cartwright name is synonymous with rugby league, with Merv considered the club's founding father, John was an integral part of the club's maiden premiership, and Bryce has developed into one of the most exciting prospects in the NRL.
It looked as though Jed would buck the trend and start his career with the Gold Coast Titans, but after a couple of seasons in their NYC system, signed a three-year deal to return home and continue the family tradition.
"It's unreal wearing this shirt. I grew up around here, I grew up wanting to be a Panther, and now I've finally got the opportunity to be one," Cartwright said.
"It definitely means a lot to our family. When I rang him (John Cartwright) and told him the news, he might have shed a tear, but yeah, they're very proud and happy.
"They just want me to do the best that I can do. They just said 'come down here, work hard, learn everything you can, and if you're good enough, you'll get an opportunity'.
"I didn't speak to Bryce in the decision-making progress. It all happened pretty quickly to be honest. Not many people knew about it besides my family, so I didn't get the opportunity to give Bryce a call."
The 20-year-old still had a year to run on his Titans contract, but with the Gold Coast unable to offer him job security beyond 2017, decided it was in his best interests to make the move back home.
"On November 1, my manager came to me and said 'Penrith are keen to have you for '18 and '19'. We went to the Titans and they weren't willing to do that so I signed here and the Titans gave me a release from my contract," he said.
"Anything can happen in football as everybody knows, so it's good to have that security. I don't have to worry about that and I can just go out and play football."
For Jed, the opportunity to represent the club he grew up supporting is a dream come true, but one he is prepared to work hard for.
Having started his career in the centres, Cartwright made the switch to the back row in 2016 and was named 18th man for the Junior Blues in the under-20s State of Origin.
Now that he's made the move to the forwards, he can't see himself going back to the three-quarter line, and is keen to develop his skills on the edge.
With the Panthers stacked for talent, Cartwright knows he is unlikely to play too many games in first grade next year, but instead of kicking stones, is looking forward to the opportunity of learning off his cousin and star players like Trent Merrin.
"I want to keep playing in the back row. I enjoy playing there," he said.
"I think I've lost a bit too much speed to go back to the centres to be honest. [I want to] continue in the back row and learn everything I can off Bryce and all the other great players here.
"I'll go back to state league and play the best I can, and hopefully if there's an injury or two, I can get a shot. I'm happy to do anything. If it's best for me and the team to go to state league and play there then I'll do that."