Sharks hero Carney ready for NSW jersey
Todd Carney has declared himself ready for State of Origin after helping Cronulla to a 12-0 NRL win over local rivals St George Illawarra at Toyota Stadium on Saturday.
The Sharks five-eighth outshone incumbent NSW No.6 Jamie Soward with a performance that was assured in attack and excellent in defence as the Sharks held the Dragons scoreless for the first time since 1973.
Carney converted tries in either half from John Morris and Wade Graham to elevate his side into a top-four spot for the first time since 2008, ironically the last time the joint venture failed to trouble the scorers against any NRL team.
“I definitely want to be there for Origin. I have wanted to ever since I started in first grade when I was 18,” Carney said.
“There’s been opportunities when I could have been there and I feel I am ready for it and I just want to put my hand up and give it a crack.
“It would be a big tick for me and a pat on the back for me if I get a call, but there are lots of other blokes in the mix who are playing good footy.”
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan was pleased with Carney’s display, but was keen to lavish praise on his side’s outstanding defensive performance, as they secured a fourth successive victory.
“We gave them plenty of opportunities to have a crack at us but they were brave and courageous and cannot wrap them enough,” Flanagan said.
“But it’s a long season and I don’t want to get too excited, but we are heading in the right direction that is for sure.”
Cronulla’s memorable night was tainted by a season-ending injury to fullback Nathan Gardner, who also enjoyed a fine display, successfully fielding several high balls from the boot of Soward.
The former Parramatta junior, crumpled in a heap on the final play of the game after he stepped off his left foot. He was immediately carried from the field with a suspected ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
“He’s pretty distressed in there, but he’ll have scans tomorrow, but it looks like he’s done his knee,” Flanagan said.
Dragons coach Steve Price slammed his players’ poor execution as they failed to take advantage of large periods of possession to sink to defeat at Toyota Stadium for the second successive season.
“It makes it pretty difficult when you make five errors on first tackle,” Price said.
“Our execution at times was quite poor, but I have said to the guys in there our effort was tremendous.
“We’ve got a bit of work to do but I am sure we’ll fix it.”
The Dragons looked to have pulled a try back with 14 minutes remaining, which would have set up a grandstand finish, but video referee Russell Smith ruled that Jason Nightingale’s left foot had brushed the touchline as he scored.
“It was difficult that one. The video ref made that decision, but it was hard to see if he was on the line or not,” Price said.© AAP 2013