TODD CARNEY: THE DRAGONS’ BIG GAMBLE

Last week Catalan Dragons completed the signing of controversial Australian half-back Todd Carney, but the transfer wasn’t straight forward, and neither is the player, so is he worth the £50,000 bond that the club has had to put up in order to capture their man?

The 28 year-old was sacked by NRL club Cronulla Sharks in June of this year, after a photo emerged of the player appearing to urinate towards his own mouth in a hotel bathroom. After the incident, Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce released a statement saying:

“The Cronulla Sharks Football Club has today after careful consideration and lengthy deliberation, including discussions with senior NRL management, made a decision to terminate Todd Carney’s NRL playing contract effective immediately.

When Todd was first signed to the Sharks he was made well aware of his responsibilities both on and off the field, to himself, the club and to the game in general, however the photograph that appeared last night on social media does not meet the values and standards the club is looking to uphold and take into the future.”

This wasn’t the only indiscretion on Carney’s CV, however, and it wasn’t the first time the former international player of the year had landed himself in hot water at a Steve Noyce club. In August 2011, the then Sydney Roosters chief executive issued Carney with a breach notice, after he broke the club’s alcohol ban. Following the incident, Noyce said:

“I’m extremely disappointed as is everyone … there are so many people that make up this club that will feel really let down and disappointed.”

Earlier that year, the Dally M medallist was fined $10,000 by the NRL after he was charged with drink driving. At the time, the Roosters agreed to stick with the troubled player, who himself said:

“I understand that I’ve done the wrong thing once again and I’ve got a plan in front of me now that I can work through and it’s something that I’ll work hard through to get myself right.”

A matter of weeks later, the NRL stood Carney down from the Roosters roster, after he found to have been drinking with team mate Anthony Watts. The alcohol ban breach in August was the straw that broke the camels back, and a month later the Roosters released Carney from his contract, which still had a year to run.

Carney was no stranger to alcohol related incidents before his time with the Roosters and the Sharks. In May 2007, he was involved in a police car chase, before being caught and charged with drink driving and reckless driving, and received a twelve-month suspended jail sentence.

A year later, it was alleged the five-eighth urinated on a patron in a nightclub. Despite the complaint against him being withdrawn, he was stood down indefinitely from Canberra Raiders, with the NRL imposing a year long ban on the troubled star.

The brushes with the law continued for Carney, in 2009 he was hit with another one year suspended jail sentence after he damaged a vehicle. He was also involved in an altercation outside a pub and in a separate incident, it was alleged he and another man set fire to another person.

In spite of the seemingly endless list of off-field misdemeanours, Carney was named the NRL’s best player in September 2010, before claiming the international player of the year gong two months later.

It is Goulburn born players indisputable quality that led to interest in him from the Dragons, and, reportedly from his former club the Raiders. Carney revealed that playing away from the Australian media was a huge factor in his decision to move to Perpignan and that he felt he has been treated harshly in his time in the NRL:

“The Australian media has been pretty cruel,” he said. “I’ll always put my hand up and I’ve obviously done the wrong things. I may not have deserved the punishment that I got but I’m not looking back. That is all past me now.”

The Australian international’s proposed move to the Super League in 2008 collapsed after he was refused a visa to allow him to join Huddersfield Giants, and the Dragons didn’t have an easy time bringing him into the league this time around. Leeds Rhinos chief executive is believed to have attempted to block the transfer, claiming that his arrival would damage the reputation of the competition.

Catalans had to put up a bond of £50,000 in order to have the RFL ratify the deal. The Dragons will lose the money if Carney is found guilty of any criminal act during his spell in the south of France.

The controversial star signed a three-year deal with the Dragons, and, while his playing ability isn’t in doubt, his off-field antics will certainly be under scrutiny during his spell the northern hemisphere’s premier competition.

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