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Gold Coast's Bryce Cartwright.

The focus on Bryce Cartwright's recent struggles took a new twist against the Melbourne Storm – a week after the Titans recruit was heavily criticised by former player Michael Ennis for playing "weak" at his new club.

Players go through stages of their Telstra Premiership career where their form dips but Cartwright's start to life on the Gold Coast has been a cause for concern.

Injuries and off-field issues at the Panthers in the past 18 months took their toll on a player once earmarked as a future NSW forward, but after signing on a long-term marquee deal at the Gold Coast, the spotlight is unlikely to go away anytime soon.

He had been named 18th man for Gold Coast's clash with Newcastle this Saturday but got a reprieve on Friday after Kevin Proctor was unable to prove his fitness after suffering a groin injury from Cameron Smith's controversial tackle.

Cartwright's lack of effort tackling Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster as he scored a try last Saturday capped off an unhappy night out for the 23-year-old, just when everyone hoped things wouldn't get any worse.

His former Penrith teammate Trent Merrin said the public needed to lay off criticising Cartwright's game.

"The only person that really knows what was going on in that moment is Carty and that's all he needs to focus on and work harder on," Merrin told

"But for Carty, there is always another game coming up and it will be forgotten about in two weeks. He needs to concentrate on the new week and get the fundamentals right."

Merrin didn't agree with the public bashing Cartwright has received in the past month and wanted the former Panther to be given the chance to find his feet again after admitting his head space wasn't at its best.

"I don't like it at all, to be honest," Merrin said.

"I think the criticism has been harsh. We all talk about player welfare and instead of trying to pick someone up everyone wants to bash him down.

"He's stepped out of his comfort zone going to a new club, he was at Penrith since he was a kid. He's moved away to Queensland and yes it was his choice, but we need to help him along the way and we might see some good footy from him.

"The way everything is going he's probably not in the best shape of mind to be playing footy but he's a strong-minded person and needs to get that support around him.

"I don't think bagging someone constantly about the way they're going will help it."

According to Stats, Cartwright's career has stumbled in all areas on the back of reduced minutes and inconsistencies in his game.

He found success in the five-eighth role alongside Nathan Cleary at Penrith to produce his best season yet in 2016. But it has all gone downhill since with his confidence at an all-time low.

Titans v Knights - Round 11

The key for Cartwright in his early days was his willingness to make as many tackles as required and at a high efficiency rate. His career figures in the past two seasons have been cut in half - none more so than his defensive game with a rise in missed tackles despite a lessened work rate.

"We all know what he's capable of doing. He's a talented footballer and that's what everyone is waiting to see," Merrin said.

"It's about getting his head in the right position and having people around him to pull him back into his style of footy."

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