Is Carney the red-hot favourite for Dally M?

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By Ryan O'Connell, Ryan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Todd Carney - pictured in better, cleaner times. (AAP Image/Sergio Dionisio)

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    Media reports on the weekend stated that Cronulla Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney is the short-priced favourite to win the 2013 Dally M Medal, the award that honours the best player in the NRL.

    Tabcorp’s corporate betting arm, Luxbet, listed Carney at the odds of $2.75 to take home Australian rugby league’s highest individual accolade. The odds for the Sharks number 6 were surprisingly short, considering the wealth of talent on show in the NRL this season.

    If Carney were to take home the silverware, he would become just the seventh man in the history of the award to win it twice, an amazing achievement that would see his name alongside all-time greats like Andrew Johns, Johnathan Thurston and Peter Sterling.

    Amid all the drama of the ASADA investigation, along with a fairly up and down season from the Sharks, Carney has been absolutely sensational for Cronulla.

    Always blessed with a lot of ability, Carney is now complementing his physical skills with supremely intelligent football. He’s a lot more patient with the ball in his hands, and gives the impression that he is constantly thinking a few plays ahead, rather than attempting to do everything in just one play.

    Many pundits often criticise players who run across the field with the ball in their hands, yet with Carney, it’s actually a unique strength of his game. Far form it being a case of him ‘going nowhere’, his superb cross-field play actually opens up channels and attacking options for the Sharks, as he links up with teammates running good angles.

    Carney has always had the ability to put players into gaps with short balls, or show off other feats of amazing individual brilliance. It’s certainly always been exciting to watch, but it hasn’t always necessarily been fantastic tactical football.

    Yet he is now a legitimate football general, directing traffic, and competing in a more methodical and calculating manner.

    He’ll notice weaknesses in the defensive line and exploit them carefully and adroitly. He’ll direct his forwards to run at smaller, tired or injured defenders. He’ll put the ball through the hands of the backline instead of attempting ‘hero’ cut-out balls. And he’s not shy of the odd verbal assault, attempting to gain a psychological advantage over opponents.

    It’s oversimplifying to say he’s playing more like a Cooper Cronk, but that comparison does provide an indication of the way he now plays football: intelligently.

    As a youngster, his success was built primarily on natural talent. Great hands, good speed, a fantastic boot, and a little bit of unpredictability – Carney had all the physical tools. It was a lethal package, and it ensured he earned a reputation as a dangerous player with lots of potential.

    However, if he wanted to make the leap from ‘promising youngster’ to ‘superstar’, more maturity was required of him on and off the field. As has been well documented, it hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys, but Carney has certainly evolved in this department.

    The lack of negative publicity in recent years suggests he has matured off the field, while the amount of positive publicity about his play on the park suggests he has matured on the field as well.

    Demonstrating the high regard with which Carney is held within the club, along with highlighting his leadership abilities, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan has named Carney as skipper when regular captain Paul Gallen is sidelined with injuries or away on representative duties.

    It gives further credence to the notion that Carney has matured, for such roles are not handed out lightly, and are rarely bestowed upon those of the ‘irresponsible’ or ‘not respected’ ilk.

    Considering the season – if not career – that Carney is having, one can’t help but feel that the New South Wales Blues selectors should be embarrassed for overlooking him during this year’s Origin series.

    As a New South Welshmen, I’m only too happy to put State of Origin in the rearview mirror, rather than focusing on the pain of another series defeat.

    However, when a superstar – who may be on the verge of being named the best player in the competition for the second time in four years – isn’t deemed good enough to make the team, I think the NSW selectors and coach should be asked some tough questions.

    It would be fascinating to hear their answers, principally because one presumes they would struggle, in much the same way defenses have struggled to answer the questions Carney poses of them each week.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (86)

    • Roar Guru

      August 13th 2013 @ 2:11am
      ScottWoodward.me said | August 13th 2013 @ 2:11am | ! Report

      Hey Ryan,
      Hope the bookies are right…..I included Todd in our Futures Staking Plan at $35 before the season started.
      There is no doubt that Loz and Bozo stuffed up big time with the selections, but then so did Ricky and so do Bellamy (Remember Quinn?). Not sure why they think ex players and coaches make the best selectors.
      I personally would have selected the Souths 6 and 7 only because they are both on fire and have a combination, but Todd was definitely stiff.

      • Columnist

        August 13th 2013 @ 7:00am
        David Lord said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:00am | ! Report

        Top piece Ryan. I have always been a great admirer of Todd Carney’s ability, even in his bad old days. But as you so rightfully pointed out, now he’s matured he’s a far better player. How he missed Origin selection is beyond belief, and if he does take out his second Dally M there will be a lot of red faces, and deservedly so.

        • Columnist

          August 13th 2013 @ 11:51am
          Ryan O'Connell said | August 13th 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

          Cheers David. He’s always been a great talent, but now he’s a great footballer. As he enters his prime, the sky is the limit. Two Dally M’s before he’s 28 would be a wonderful achievement.

          That’s a handy wager you placed, Scott!

          • Roar Guru

            August 13th 2013 @ 1:26pm
            ScottWoodward.me said | August 13th 2013 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

            Ryan
            We backed 3 guys all at 34.00, but Gidley got injured and Dugan decided to get drunk on a roof top, but he has since come back with a heap of MOM awards, before breaking his Manly Warringah.

            • August 13th 2013 @ 4:05pm
              Devout Saint said | August 13th 2013 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              I backed Carney for last year’s dally M along with Sam Burgess and Cherry. But I didn’t put any on this year.

        • September 9th 2013 @ 6:03pm
          Rhys said | September 9th 2013 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

          There have been other players this year that have been better! Sonny Bill Williams or Roger Tuivasa Sheck . Heaps of players

      • August 13th 2013 @ 4:03pm
        Devout Saint said | August 13th 2013 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

        @Scott, would you care to tell me what is so good about Adam Reynolds besides his great kicking game, that you think he should be picked for NSW. I have watched him closely since mid last year when many sections of the media and public started calling for his inclusion for NSW. After watching him closely, he has done very little to impress, besides kick the ball. He is the halfback playing in a very successful team. I think Adam Reynolds is the most over rated player in the comp. I actually see similarities with Soward. He too was playing in a winning team, but doing very little else beside kicking the ball. The media and fans started a pick Soward campaign in 09 and by 11 he was picked.

        I think Josh Reynolds should have been the first half chosen for NSW this year and Sutton probably would have been the best choice to partner him. I am interested in Albert Kelly as a future origin player, but I don’t think he is ready yet.

        • August 13th 2013 @ 4:21pm
          V.O.R. said | August 13th 2013 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

          + 1 …what about Josh Reynolds and Carney? Josh Reynolds has Origin mentality in spades… he will not be intimidated.

          • August 13th 2013 @ 5:59pm
            Devout Saint said | August 13th 2013 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

            I used to be massive Carney fan, when he was at Canberra and Easts. I wanted Saints to sign him big time then. I would like to see him laying halfback for his club too. But when ever I have watched him over the last 2 years, he looks to dog it a bit. He looks to be afraid to get in there and take a hit. I also saw him make one of the most feeble attempts at tackling against Newcastle this week, it was disgraceful. Even Jamie Soward would have been ashamed of that attempt. lol So I am now unsure about Carney.

            I think JOSH Reynolds is a future NSW captain. I wish Saints had signed him this year.

            • August 13th 2013 @ 7:07pm
              des' right hand said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

              You think josh reynolds is going to be a future nsw capt… You have lost your mind that skilless dud won’t be picked again

              • Columnist

                August 13th 2013 @ 8:29pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | August 13th 2013 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

                Depends who partners him in the halves. If you get a skillful, creative half alongside him, I could definitely see Josh Reynolds playing Origin again.

              • Roar Pro

                August 13th 2013 @ 9:44pm
                Jack Daniels said | August 13th 2013 @ 9:44pm | ! Report

                Skilless dud? The guy does stuff that completely changes the game. He hammered Josh Papalii in origin 2, he is extremely aggressive and knows how to lift his team

        • August 13th 2013 @ 8:45pm
          soapit said | August 13th 2013 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

          i’ll take a good kicking game for nsw thanks.

    • August 13th 2013 @ 7:25am
      A1 said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      And yet Mitchell Pearce gets picked!!!

      • August 13th 2013 @ 7:32am
        liatrevlis said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        Ya not wrong , it happens every year,not just Pearce ,his mate was just as bad , Jorge Tafua will prob get a gong as well , well done Carney ,

    • August 13th 2013 @ 7:30am
      wozza said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      I know Pearce didn’t deliver in origin ,but to say the Souths pair are on fire when you compare the roosters percentage to the rabbits its almost 100 points difference …so who’s doing all the good work for the roosters ???? NSW have a losing culture issue that has to be addressed .
      Having said that I too would have had TC in the nsw team …I was disappointed the roosters couldn’t get him sorted out when he was there as I think he’s got the potential to be one of the greats in the future …maybe starting with next yrs SOS …

    • August 13th 2013 @ 7:39am
      Ben said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Outplayed by Mullen on Saturday night. He had a sensational game. Probably the best open play kicker in the game.

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • August 14th 2013 @ 1:23am
        Knight Vision said | August 14th 2013 @ 1:23am | ! Report

        Mullen was running second in the count when voting went behind close doors and he’s had some MOM performances since then but never gets talked up. Mullen for mine the first time I saw him touch a footy was like the first time I saw players like Brad Clyde , Fittler and Johns, it was pure class and I’m bewildered as to why he hasnt fulfilled that potential. Although at times he has shown glimpses this was he’s best season so far , but is still the forgotten man in the media. I read league articles with great interest, and its not always the good players getting talked up. Its like there is a media agenda. Merritt being chosen in SOO is a perfect example. I personally wouldnt swap Mullen for any 5/8 in the comp bar maybe Thurston and even then Mullen is twice the defender Thurston is

        • Columnist

          August 14th 2013 @ 8:18am
          Ryan O'Connell said | August 14th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

          Knight Vision, I rate Mullen very highly, and think he’s the one of the most underrated players in the NRL. It staggers me that Soward, Pearce, Maloney, etc have all been picked ahead of this guy for NSW, as I think he’s streets ahead of all of them, regardless of whether he plays halfback or five-eighth.

          I actually picked Mullen at halfback, alongside Todd Carney, in my Origin team last year:

          http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/04/12/selecting-my-blues-state-of-origin-team/

      • August 14th 2013 @ 1:27am
        Knight Vision said | August 14th 2013 @ 1:27am | ! Report

        Mullen has a blinder and the headline reads ” Knights pip hapless Sharks “, if the Sharks won the headline would of been “Dally M favorite Carney shines in Sharks win” the glorifying of some players and not others is perplexing.

    • August 13th 2013 @ 7:39am
      Clark said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      I think that is a fair call. If the sharks drop a couple of their last games then JT and cronk will close. If the Cowboys win Thurston ususally gets 3 points. In my opinion Coooper Cronk has been the most consistent player this year, he was all class against Souths last week.

      • August 13th 2013 @ 8:41am
        Marledon said | August 13th 2013 @ 8:41am | ! Report

        I would second that. It would have been Inglis be a country mile had it not been for his injury but Cronk has been phenominal. Trouble is that everyone expects cronk to perform. It will probably end up being carney if only because of the bias shown towards anything from the shire.

        • Columnist

          August 13th 2013 @ 11:52am
          Ryan O'Connell said | August 13th 2013 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          The other problem Cronk faces is that Cameron Smith and Billy Slater steal points off him!

          • August 13th 2013 @ 12:46pm
            Marldon said | August 13th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            True and Carney will tend to get the 3 at the sharks even when he has a bit of an off game. Its the same situation with Thurston

            • August 13th 2013 @ 12:54pm
              Renegade said | August 13th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              No, not really.

              Like last year – Gallen, Fifita and Graham all steal points of Carney when they are better as has Lewis and Gordon this year

              Carney has just been outstanding in over half a dozen matches this year, even when the Sharks lost.

          • August 13th 2013 @ 5:02pm
            Clark said | August 13th 2013 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

            Which will make it all the more impressive if he does win it. In my opinion.

    • August 13th 2013 @ 7:49am
      Benny said | August 13th 2013 @ 7:49am | ! Report

      Pearce????? Maloney??????
      Egg all over the face of NSW’s inept, inbred selection policy

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