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Bryce Cartwright signs with Parramatta Eels for 2021 NRL season

Bryce Cartwright has found a new home in the NRL, signing with the Parramatta Eels for the 2021 season.

The 26-year-old forward ended a turbulent 2020 season out of the league after walking out on the Gold Coast Titans.

Initially blocked from training with the club after refusing a flu vaccine in line with the Queensland government’s COVID-19 protocols, he was later granted an exemption.

But after playing five games in the restarted season Cartwright left the bubble in July to return to New South Wales with his family.

He was released from his contract for the 2021 season in September, allowing him to seek out a return with a Sydney-based club.

Cartwright said Eels coach Brad Arthur asked him “a lot of questions about on and off the field” but made it a “pretty easy decision” to accept their contract offer.

“Bit strange given I was a Penrith junior and had that rivalry growing up but I’m really excited. Can’t wait to rip in and get started,” he said.

Former Gold Coast Titans player Bryce Cartwright. Credit: Getty

“Definitely (seeing it as a fresh start). It’s really nice to be back in Sydney with family and friends.

“After I left the Gold Coast I had about a month off and just hung around family. I got back into training again, I was going mad.”

Cartwright, who wants to break into the run-on side and “be a really consistent player” for the team, said reuniting with ex-teammates Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Waqa Blake was a drawcard.

However, Parramatta conceded the club has work to do to get the best out of Cartwright.

A teenage prodigy when he debuted in 2014, his defence has been called into question despite his promise in attack.

“We are excited to welcome Bryce Cartwright to the Eels,” Eels football boss Mark O’Neill said.

Gold Coast Titans star Bryce Cartwright
Bryce Cartwright made seven appearances for the Gold Coast Titans in 2020. Credit: AAP

“Bryce is a unique talent having ball skills like few other forwards in the NRL competition. He will add size and skill to our forward pack and depth and quality to our overall squad.

“Bryce was looking for an opportunity in Sydney and is keen to play under Brad Arthur and with our team at the Eels.

“Like Bryce, we believe that through our coaching, quality playing roster and a balanced environment will bring the best out in him, something we are all committed to achieving in season 2021.”

Cartwright played 69 games for the Penrith Panthers before taking up a big-money deal with the Gold Coast Titans from 2018.

He left the club with 43 appearances to his name.

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