Cartwright to pivot, Elgey dropped in Titans shake-up
Gold Coast coach Garth Brennan has moved his former Panthers protégé Bryce Cartwright to five-eighth for Saturday's home clash with Cronulla, with Kane Elgey paying for his defensive deficiencies.
At his first media appearance after becoming a Titan in February, Cartwright made it clear he'd rather not wear the No.6 jersey again.
Yet he has been largely ineffective playing in the middle off the bench in five of his seven appearances, in attack and defence, and Brennan knew he had to get his high-profile signing on the edge and creating some opportunities.
And Elgey became the player to make way, dropped to the Tweed Heads Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup.
Although the coach was keen to state his 23-year-old pivot, known to be very much a "confidence player", remained a major part of his plans once he gets his game back on song.
The off-contract Elgey, who had appeared to grow in confidence in the first five rounds until the losses to Penrith and North Queensland in the past fortnight, has been targeted defensively on their left edge.
While Cartwright offers a more robust body, his defence too has been questioned. "It's less demanding than playing in the middle," Brennan said of Cartwright's switch.
"He's a footballer. What number he has on his back probably doesn't affect Bryce too much but the fact he's back on the edge takes a little bit more demand [physically] off him.
"If you go back to the best football Bryce Cartwright plays, everyone talks about how he was knocking on the door to Origin selection that was in 2016 and he was playing five-eighth.
"He has made it publicly clear it is not his preferred position but for players in this squad it is about team first and they will play wherever the team needed him to be.
"Have a look at the last 10 minutes of our game last weekend when Bryce started to float, he set up the try for Jarrod Wallace with a tip-on pass.
"I have confidence he can do the job defensively; he has Will Matthews inside him and Brendan Elliot [promoted for the first time in 2018] is a very much a defensive centre, and him coming in to left centre will help him."
The Titans need to get more of the X-Factor that Cartwright can offer. And he needs to be in position, and mood, to deliver as he has looked uncomfortable or unfamiliar with what he has shown.
Cartwright has created two tries in his seven games, both tip-on passes near the try line, but made only two line breaks, created two line breaks for others and averaged 59 running metres in tight.
Brennan admitted Elgey paid for some one-on-one defensive misses against the Cowboys.
"I spoke with Kane and told him the areas he needs to work on, mainly defensively and taking more control of the team and working with Ash [Taylor]," he said.
"He understood it; didn't argue it or question it. He understood very well his form is not where it needs to be. I'm confident Kane can bounce back. He is only young."
Meanwhile, Brennan is confident of retaining Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace with speculation mounting he may return to the Broncos after stating he still "loved" the club. He is off contract but the Titans have offered a rich four-year deal.
"It would make him our longest signed player at our club if he signs that deal which shows the faith I have in him," Brennan said. "It's up to Jarrod now to make a decision on which way he wants to go.
"He became an Origin player here, he's settled in really well, he's bought a house on the Gold Coast, so I am confident he will stay here."