There are certain clubs that have such a strong culture that bad apples are quickly crushed.
Brisbane under Bennett and Melbourne under Bellamy appear to be clubs with such a culture – hence their record of success over the last decade.
In such environments it is also the senior playing group that has a role in keeping the team’s off field behaviour tight – as the coach cannot hold his players’ hands 24/7. The elders like Lockyer and Cam Smith watch over the younger more susceptible characters in the team and show them how devoted they need to be to their training.
Cronulla appear to me to be a club ill-equipped to deal with the herculean task of turning Todd Carney into a sober, consistent performer.
It is also the wrong kind of place. Cronulla is a playground for a young guy predisposed to partying – with its combination of beach, beer and babes. You can just see it now: Todd Carney racking up his frequent fighter miles up at Northeys.
The Roosters had a disciplinarian coach in Brian Smith and some old heads like Anthony Minichiello around and they were still not able to keep Carney in check. Granted, there were some counter balancing influences at the club, namely Nate Miles and Anthony Watts.
For a self-confessed alcoholic the geographical situation of a club will be the key. Living five minutes from Kings Cross was probably more temptation than the troubled young player could handle. While there are pubs everywhere, one is left with an uneasy feeling when you think of Carney in Cronulla.
A huge question for the Sharks will be what stance they take with Carney’s drinking. Zero tolerance clearly failed at the Roosters, however, a lackadaisical approach to alcohol will not work when you are talking about someone with long term alcoholism.
The comments from Sharks Chairman Damian Irvine yesterday, are cause for concern: ‘When you ask people to make big promises and they get broken, you find yourself having issues … I like a drink, we all like a drink, I think drinking’s a huge part of society … Todd hasn’t really done a lot wrong this year from what I can see”.
Paul Gallen has certainly turned his own career around. 2011 was a break out year when the bustling forward was able to channel his aggression in all the right ways. His performances in the three Origin Games as captain revealed an admirable character. Gallen leads by example on the field but he does not strike me as a man with the maturity even at this stage of his career to set the right example off it.
If Carney is to turn things around he will need to find self-discipline and I doubt that Gallen is an expert on the topic, he appears at times to still be teetering on the edge himself.
We have seen so many troubled footballers (in all codes) given second chances in the last few years and the numbers would suggest that as many fail as succeed. The demons tend to follow the player to their new club.
Carney will be tempted to sign with any club willing to take a punt on him, but in reality he needs the right environment. I would be telling him to steer clear of the Shire.