‘Broken’ Cartwright’s NRL career in tatters
Bryce Cartwright's NRL career is in tatters after the "broken" star was released from his $450,000 contract with the Gold Coast Titans.
News Corp can reveal Cartwright has officially severed ties with the Titans, two months after walking out on the club to be with family in Sydney.
The Titans are expected to release a statement on Thursday afternoon confirming Cartwright's departure with a year remaining on his contract.
Cartwright, 25, played the last of 43 games for the Titans on July 10 before exiting the Gold Coast's COVID "bubble".
He headed to Sydney after his wife Shanelle moved to the New South Wales city with their two children and has not returned to the Gold Coast.
The Titans have refused to comment on Cartwright's move but have held private concerns over his welfare, with one source claiming he had been "broken" by the saga.
Titans players have been left in the dark over Cartwright's disappearance, with captain Kevin Proctor admitting he was worried about his teammate.
"I honestly don't know what's going on with Bryce," he said.
"I know he's had some family dramas and he's gone to Sydney to sort some stuff out.
"Bryce had settled in well and he got on with the guys well.
"It's disappointing to lose him through this period but hopefully he is OK with his family."
Cartwright has had a turbulent NRL career since bursting onto the scene with Penrith in 2014.
He was tipped as a NSW State of Origin player of the future following sensational attacking performances in 2015-16, but has been embroiled in some serious off-field issues.
He was released by the Panthers in 2018 to join the Titans under ex-coach Garth Brennan, who worked closely with Cartwright at Penrith, on a four-year contract worth close to $2 million.
On the back of a badly broken ankle, Cartwright failed to rediscover his best form on the Gold Coast and was regularly criticised for his defensive efforts.
He found some promising form under new coach Justin Holbrook this year, but attracted headlines when he refused to receive an influenza vaccination as part of the NRL's return-to-play protocols following the COVID season suspension.
Cartwright was eventually granted an exemption, but only managed seven appearances in 2020 before departing the Titans.
In the week before he left the club, Cartwright said he was waging a battle with his body and mind to keep playing in the NRL.
"I do worry about how much longer I can keep going," he said.
"The critics don't see what you go through. My knees swell up and I have to get it drained all the time. That's the price some players pay in this game.
"We get paid good money, but it's not an easy ride.
"It's hard mentally on me at times. But I always believe in never giving up. I will battle as long as I can until I retire."
That could be earlier than Cartwright had planned.
With 112 NRL games under his belt, he has no guaranteed club for 2021 and has forfeited a massive pay cheque to be closer to his children in Sydney, a city he loathes compared to the Gold Coast.
"I love the place (Gold Coast)," he said two months ago.
"Sydney was a rat race, but I feel really settled on the Gold Coast.
"I want to make the people of the Gold Coast proud of the Titans and I don't want to let my teammates down either. I want to help the Titans get back into the finals. I would like to finish my career with the club.
"What keeps me going is the feeling I haven't reached my best. I do get disappointed at my inconsistency and I want to get back to playing the football I know I can. I want to repay the Titans for giving me a chance after I left Penrith."
Originally published as 'Broken' Cartwright's NRL career in tatters