I wish I found Brad Arthur and Eels earlier: Cartwright

Scott Bailey |

Bryce Cartwright says he is “still learning” as he enjoys the best period of his career at the Eels.
Bryce Cartwright says he is “still learning” as he enjoys the best period of his career at the Eels.

Bryce Cartwright says he wished he moved to Parramatta earlier, admitting he was like a “part-time footballer” before playing under coach Brad Arthur.

In the same week Cartwright comes up against his former club Penrith on Friday night, the vastly-improved second-rower lavished praise upon his treatment at the Eels.

The first teenage prodigy of the Panthers’ current group of home-grown stars, Cartwright was meant to be a future star at the club his grandfather Merv helped form.

But while he provided flashes of brilliance, Cartwright never reached anywhere near his potential at Penrith in his four seasons in first grade there after a 2014 debut.

He took up a big-money deal to head to the Gold Coast in 2018, but was dropped shortly after arriving and found his career at a crossroads when cut by the club in 2020 after being dropped again and moving to Sydney.

At Parramatta, Cartwright has become of the most improved players in the competition.

He had a stellar 2023 season, and scored a double in their first-up win over Canterbury on Saturday, running a good line for the first try.

Bryce Cartwright.
Bryce Cartwright evades Blake Taaffe to score an Eels try against Canterbury. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“I feel like when I was younger that I was a part-time, inconsistent player,” Cartwright said.

“I’d do some really good plays and them some really bad plays.

“But I feel like as I’ve got older over the past couple of years, I’ve turned myself into an 80-minute player with more composure and a team-first mentality.”

Cartwright insists he is happy for the success Penrith have had since his exit.

But he is more than happy at Parramatta, where he has formed part of a dangerous right edge alongside Mitch Moses and Will Penisini.

And as far as the 29-year-old is concerned, the biggest difference between what he is producing now compared to at age 21 is Arthur.

“I wish I came here earlier in my career because I think he would have been a bigger help to me from a younger age,” Cartwright said.

“I probably didn’t have someone like Brad to rein me in back then.

“He’s simplified my game … He reminds me of my dad (former first-grader David) in some ways because he can be very cranky and loving.

“I’m a lot older now and more experienced, and I now realise what it takes to be a complete and consistent first-grader and a team player.

“I probably didn’t appreciate the little things like that when I was 21 – things like kick chases, simple runs in the middle of the field and yardage carries.

“It’s taken a while to learn, and I’m still learning, but, I wish Brad was my coach when I first came into first grade.”