Cartwright to Ennis: Lay off my nephew
FORMER Gold Coast Titans coach and Kangaroos forward John Cartwright has fired back at critics of his nephew, Gold Coast star Bryce - and Michael Ennis is the prime target.
Bryce moved from Penrith to the Gold Coast on a big-money deal earlier this year but the utility has struggled to make any impact, prompting retired Sharks premiership-winner Ennis to claim on Fox Sports this week that he was "taking the piss" out of the Titans.
But John has had enough of the critics.
"You fight one of us, you fight the lot of us," said Cartwright, whose brother David is Bryce's father.
"All these blokes having a dig at Bryce when he's down - he's getting kicked left, right and centre. I thought what Ennis said was quite personal.
"Leave the personal shit aside.
"For someone to sit there behind a microphone and say that he's taking the piss and not trying, basically saying he's not having a go, I certainly take issue with that.
"He (Ennis) said he's taking the piss out of the club by accepting money. That's what he said."
Cartwright said Ennis should contact Bryce and offer constructive criticism rather than condemn him from a television studio.
"I've got a lot of respect for Michael Ennis - he was one of the best competitors I've ever seen play the game. But I'm sure there were periods of his career where he felt a bit down and maybe not performing his best," Cartwright said.
"I think he carries enough respect to get Bryce's number and give him a call and tell him where he thinks Bryce can be better. Ennis would get a lot more accolades from everyone in the game if that's how he approached it.
"Bryce certainly doesn't deserve blokes taking personal potshots at him. He is a good kid trying his best and trying to give his best for the Gold Coast, that's a fact."
Ennis went hard on Bryce this week when questioned about the form of Gold Coast's major off-season purchase.
"Phil Gould doesn't let really good players go," Ennis said. "Now he let him go over the summer for compassionate reasons and (Titans coach) Garth Brennan took Bryce Cartwright on the sheer fact that he delivered for him and he'd had a good relationship with him in the NSW Cup.
"Bryce is letting his coach down. There's no two ways about it. He's given him a lifeline and he's taking the piss up there, Bryce. No two ways about it.
"He needs to show that he wants to be an NRL player, he's nowhere near NRL standard. Well Bryce Cartwright's defence is atrocious. I can't say it in any other manner."
John agreed Bryce's form had been modest this season.
"I know he's not playing well, so does the bloke in the street. But none of these blokes (critics) go down to training and watch him train. He is down on confidence but they don't know the effort that he's putting in," John said.
"He is a 23-year-old kid - he has best years in front of him. He is going to get back to where he was and he has to take the good with the bad. I agree 100 percent about his form - Bryce's form is down, like the rest of the team.
"But Bryce didn't have much of an off-season at Penrith, training-wise. He went to the Titans just a week before their first game. In no way am I saying that's playing out of his skin or anywhere near his best, and I'm sure he'd be the first bloke to admit that."
Gold Coast halfback Ash Taylor also threw his support behind Cartwright.
Asked about Cartwright's criticism, Taylor told Fox Sports' NRL Tonight: "It doesn't bother him at all. He just wants to get on with the job.
"He probably knows himself that it's not been up to standard and Bryce is his harshest critic. I am sure he has been working hard at training this week and will continue to work hard to make sure his form is where it needs to be."