Where To Now For Todd Carney In A Career Punctuated By Off Field Issues

Todd Carney once again finds his Rugby League career in tatters after yet another off field incident. The Cronulla Sharks decision to sack him, and the timing of his sacking (just one day before the June 30 deadline that allowed players to switch teams), makes it hard to see where Carney goes from here.

I feel some sympathy for Todd Carney. What he did in that photo was weird! Having someone photograph you doing that…I don’t get it. I just have no idea why you’d do that!

Still, as strange as it was, what Carney did wasn’t illegal. Sure it was stupid, but he did it privately. Had this picture never got out Todd Carney would still be a Cronulla Shark. It is a very strange situation.

I can understand why the Cronulla Sharks decided to terminate his contract. This is the last thing they needed to be dealing with. The club has said that Carney had received a few warnings about his off field behaviour this season already and this was the final straw. Still, I can’t help but think that had Carney been in good form, he would still be a Cronulla Shark.

The reality is that Todd Carney’s past behaviour is the reason why his finds himself sacked for such a silly incident. Had this been a one off, much like the Konrad Hurrell incident, I think we would have seen him receive a slap on the wrist and warned that next time he will find himself in real trouble.

The issue Todd Carney now faces in the fact that he is 28 years old. Just a few seasons ago when he was on the Rugby League scrap heap teams still looked at him as a young, talented player who was worth investing time and effort in because of the promise that he could join the right club and still have a long career at the top level.

Now, any team that signs Todd Carney for the 2015 season is getting a player who will be turning 29 next year, who is coming off an off field incident, who will carry a lot a baggage to any team he joins, and who hasn’t been in great form for a while now. Carney is a completely different prospect now compared to the player he was when the Cronulla Sharks signed him.

Still, there will no doubt there are clubs out there right now who are waiting to see how this all plays out, how long the NRL itself expected Carney to spend on the sidelines, and seeing if they can sign him for a reasonably small contract in the hope they can get something out of Carney next season.

You can’t tell me that a team like the North Queensland Cowboys wouldn’t love to partner him with Johnathan Thurston. Could the Melbourne Storm be just the environment Carney would need? Ironically the Canberra Raiders might look to bring Carney home. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bidding war broke out for Carney at some point. If teams were willing to fight over Benji Marshall, they’ll fight over Todd Carney.

It is just a really unfortunate situation. I’m sure everyone within the game had hoped Todd Carney had turned a corner off the field. Hopefully he is getting support from people around him because he has a lot to deal with right now.

Last but not least I want to say this. Todd Carney just had a contract over well over $1 million torn up. There are players right now in the National Rugby League who earn a lot of money that have been convicted of violent crimes.

At some point the NRL needs to decide where the line is for players that it wants to represent clubs, and the game. I can cop Todd Carney being sacked for something silly like this but only if players that assault women are not allowed to play in the NRL ever again.

The good thing is that most Rugby League supporters seem to have the same moral compass on these sort of issues. Yes there are some supporters that wouldn’t want a player sacked even if they cut someone’s head off at halftime in the middle of the field, but most of us agree on the penalties we expect players to cop depending on what they do.

I now think we will see Todd Carney head off to play in Super League. The Salford Red Devils have already said they have no interest in signing him. He could end up playing for the Catalan Dragons who are based in France and for whom the visa restrictions should be easier to get around than they would be for UK based clubs.

Hopefully out of all of this Todd Carney learns a few lessons. Who he can and can not trust. How he behaves off the field, even in private situations. Most of all you’d hope he can just get away from alcohol because that seems to be a common theme in all of the issues he has faced.

I really do wish Todd Carney the best of luck with his career from this point on. Quite frankly, he is going to need it.

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