New man in charge
NEW Brothers coach Mick Cartwright was destined to be involved in rugby league, given he grew up in Penrith, a league heartland.
“I just love rugby league really. I’m too old to play now and this (coaching) is a way to keep involved and hopefully pass a bit on to the younger fellas,” Cartwright said.
Starting in juniors at the powerhouse St Marys Rugby League Club in Penrith, Cartwright made his way through the playing ranks over the years, eventually cracking it in the big time.
“I progressed to play a few first grade games at Penrith, but mainly played in the lower grades,” he said.
After hearing about the Brothers coaching position last year, Cartwright was interested in the role and was keen to throw his hat in the ring after taking a year off coaching.
He attended the Brothers presentation night last year and found the club were akin to St Marys in its approach to the game.
“They came across like a good family club, who are professional and love their footy,” he said.
His philosophy on coaching has been developed from experiences and relationships throughout his career, which included playing stints in France, captain-coach roles at various clubs, and as assistant coach at Penrith feeder club Windsor.
“As you get older you learn from your mistakes. I know as a kid I made a few training-wise and dedication-wise and hopefully can pass that on to the kids, especially the younger ones that can go a bit further,” he said.
“I think you have to be true to yourself and know you’ve had a go and given 110 per cent.
“It doesn’t matter what grade you’re playing, if you train two days a week, you make sure you’re there and give everything to it.”
Cartwright, whose brother John coaches the Gold Coast Titans, doesn’t feel any pressure coming to the Gladstone club, which took the trifecta in three grades last year.
“There’ll be a lot of different players coming in, as well as a few from the under-20s, and a few retirees,” the coach said.
“As long as we’re competitive and if you make the semis, anything can happen.”
Working with new people and being out of his familiar environment is a challenge Cartwright is approaching with relish.
“Here it’s all fresh and having a year off gets that hunger back,” he said.
Brothers’ major recruit, journeyman Karl Johnson, 26, is a former Comet and Townsville Cowboy who brings a wealth of experience.
Johnson, who will play at centre, will let his footy do the talking.
“I’ll try to lead by example. I think my strength is running straight and hard,” he said.
The connection with Penrith continues this year, with back-rower Josh Bateman expected in town next month, while last year’s league best and fairest winner Luke Vella has returned to New South Wales.
In reserves grade, Russell Groth will coach the team again.