Trouble is often not too far away from the name Todd Carney and controversy has plagued his career.
Over a decade ago, he was disqualified from driving for five years after a drink driving incident while with Canberra Raiders – which didn’t stop him from continuing to drive which, following fleeing from the police following a car chase, led to 200 hours of community service from the Australian and an order from the judge to show good behaviour, saying that another misdemeanour would “undoubtedly go to jail.” Carney was retained by the Raiders despite the incident in 2007 and, following that, he ended up as the club’s top try scorer for that campaign – underlining the fact that, despite his indiscipline off the field, he is very much a technically gifted rugby league player.
One of the more bizarre off field occurrences attributed to Carney saw him accused of urinating on a man in a nightclub, so traumatising for the poor gentleman in question that he had to undertake counselling to deal with the troubles it caused him. Previously standing by their man, Canberra saw their star suspended for league matches as well as training. This saw the beginning of the end of his time with the Raiders as the club, with the backing of the NRL issued an ultimatum of a five point plan where Carney was to stand down from club duty, accept an alcohol ban, complete a community service program, undergo counselling and pay a $20,000 with the NRL threatening to ban the half back for two years if it wasn’t accepted – which, ultimately, happened and he was banned from the NRL competition until 2010. This saw him try to get a contract with Huddersfield Giants for a year but, unsurprisingly, he was refused a visa due to previous misdemeanours.
2010 arrived and, following a vandalism spree in Goulborn, Sydney Roosters were perhaps brave to offer Carney a three year contract and played, initially, at full back until he managed to displace the Roosters’ then captain Braith Anasta in the halves – which saw an outstanding understanding develop between himself and Mitchell Pearce which, following a campaign which saw him score over 200 points, contributed to him winning the season’s Dally M medal for the NRL’s best player. 2011, though, saw him stood down by the authorities after another drinking misdemeanour which saw, eventually, Carney being released by the club.
Cronulla Sharks were his next port of call after another host of clubs, both from the Super League and NRL, were linked with signing the controversial individual and he helped the club into the finals while also earning representative honours in the State of Origin. 2013 saw him re-sign with the Sharks for five years after a sterling start to his career with Cronulla but, despite this, saw through only a year of it following controversial photographs emerging on social media. This saw NRL chief operating officer, Jim Doyle, say that he “he would be surprised if any club would show interest in signing him considering his chequered history and even if they did it was ‘unlikely’ the NRL would agree to register him.”
Super League then saw him sign for Catalans in 2015 and, following two years in France, he moved to Salford Red Devils. While in the northern hemisphere, there wasn’t much controversy surrounding Carney but, following 50 appearances in the competition, the Australian returned Down Under to sign for Northern Pride, an Intrust Super Cup team, giving up – depending on who you listen to – between $100,000 and $500,000 per year on what he could have earned in the Super League in order to seek an NRL return.
It has transpired this week that, despite not playing a game yet for the Pride, a return may not be too far away with NRL clubs being linked with his signature. These clubs include Manly Sea Eagles and losing 2017 Grand Finalists North Queensland Cowboys and his current head coach, Ty Williams, has said that “I told him I’d do everything possible to get him physically and mentally hopefully back into that arena.” Indeed, following Sea Eagles’ coach Trent Barrett refusing to rule out a bid to sign the undeniably talented half back, Cowboys’ boss Paul Green said “the answer is yes” when asked if he would consider signing Carney.
Nobody who has seen him play throughout his career can question his ability on the rugby league pitch but, following a catalogue of misdemeanours, will any NRL club or coach be able to keep Carney on the straight and narrow if he signed up with one for 2018?
Only time will tell.