He’s already been earmarked as a future representative star, but Bryce Cartwright is taking nothing for granted in 2016.
All eyes were on the young backrower in 2015 as he fought his way back from a broken ankle that threatened to end his career, to being one of the Panthers’ best.
For the first time in his career, the 21-year-old has the benefit of a full pre-season under his belt.
Having put in the hard yards on the training paddock and in the gym, Cartwright declared he was as strong and fit as ever on the dawn of the season.
He knows he has come a long way in the past 12 months, which he credits to his family and the club.
“I’ve got a great base of support at home and at the Panthers as well,” he said.
“If I didn’t have those two support bases, I wouldn’t be standing here, 100 per cent fit.”
As he started to attract a lot of media attention and predicitions about his future, Cartwright also looked to his family to keep him grounded.
“I guess it’s easy when I’ve got a good family to bring me back down,” he said.
“Just hearing that stuff makes you want to train harder, you want it more, you want it to be a reality.
“It’s nice to hear, but I’ve just got to keep my head down and work hard.”
Cartwright had a brush with representative football last year, where he was 18th man for the City origin side.
Earning another representative call-up remains a goal this year.
“It’s always a goal to play rep footy, but the first thing is playing my best footy for Penrith and getting us to the grand final in October.”
Just hearing that stuff makes you want to train harder, you want it more, you want it to be a reality.Bryce Cartwright
Cartwright is excited by the talent surrounding him at the Panthers and is looking forward to the start of the season.
Even if he faces a battle for a spot in the team, he is ready to rise to the challenge.
“There’s a lot of competition for spots in the back row and I think that’s really good,” he said.
“It keeps everyone on their toes and we’ll be all fighting for that spot, so you’ve got to be better than one another.
“They’re really good players, so it’s going to be hard to lock down a spot.
“You look to your left and your right and there’s just so much talent and so much skill and I’m really excited to get out there.”