Cartwright Plays Down Origin Talk
He might be the talk of the town when it comes to picking the NSW Blues side for Game Three of the Holden State of Origin series, but Bryce Cartwright says it isn't up to the fans whether he makes his debut in two weeks' time.
Cartwright has been on fire for the Penrith Panthers in 2016 and was at his electrifying best against the Rabbitohs last Friday night, setting up three tries and producing six offloads in the 28-26 win.
The 2013 NYC Player of the Year has been touted as one of the men capable of turning the Blues' Origin fortunes around, and with the series already decided the 'dead rubber' would appear the perfect opportunity to blood new talent.
His attacking flair would be more than handy for a NSW side that has struggled to score points and has now lost 10 of the past 11 series against the Maroons.
But despite the public backing, Cartwright said the only opinions that counted were those of NSW coach Laurie Daley and the men who picked the Blues side.
"There's a lot of talk, but they're not the selectors," Cartwright.
"I've just got to play well here and worry about getting the two points each week for Penrith.
"I'm trying to not think too much about it. I was probably thinking a little bit about it before the first and second games, but now I just want to worry about playing some good footy here."
Cartwright was selected as a development player for the opening game of the series but was ruled out of the extended squad barely an hour after being named.
"I tore some ligaments in my thumb and I was having trouble with my knee," he said.
"We had the bye that week so I just needed to rest up and I wouldn't have been able to train all week anyway so there was pretty much no point in me going in and seeing what it was like. Lucky enough I got called back into camp the second time.
"It was awesome to [get the] experience with all those well-known Origin players and the staff as well. It was a great week to be a part of and I'm just really humbled to be a part of it."
While Cartwright missed out on the final 17 for the game in Queensland, fellow development player Jack Bird made it onto Suncorp Stadium for his Origin debut after centre Josh Morris was ruled out with a groin injury.
Cartwright said he was happy to see his fellow Blue get a shot, but wasn't hoping for similar luck to come his way at the expense of a potential teammate.
"If there's an injury in camp or someone brings an injury in [there's a chance I'd be picked] but you never want to see that happen to anyone," the 21-year-old said.
"Laurie pretty much said that if 'Moz' (Morris) wasn't playing that Jack would slip straight in. I thought he played really well and was obviously a good pick for the team."
Daley recently said he thought Cartwright was ready for Origin but didn't believe he was ready to start, and it's a view shared by the man himself.
"I really respect Laurie's opinion," the City Origin star said.
"I'm just young and he probably doesn't want to throw me in to start an Origin match [because] it's a different beast."
The only way Cartwright can convince selectors is by continuing to perform at club level, and that starts this Saturday night against the Wests Tigers who are coming off a 29-20 loss in Melbourne despite a spirited second-half fightback.
Cartwright knows his side will have to be at their best if they want to make it three straight wins for the first time in 2016 after almost squandering a 14-point lead in the final five minutes last weekend.
"We've got to be on our defensive game for the whole 80 and not give away silly penalties and silly errors," he said.
"I think that was probably the worst thing in our game against Souths. You can't do that against anyone in the NRL because they're just going to score points."
This article first appeared on NRL.com