The NRL can’t allow Todd Carney back

Adam Bagnall Roar Guru

By Adam Bagnall, Adam Bagnall is a Roar Guru

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30 Have your say

    Todd Carney recently played his first game in Australia since 2014 and there are calls for him to be given another chance in the NRL – a final shot at redemption.

    People compare his record, a long list of misdemeanours dating back more than ten years, to those of Russell Packer who was jailed for violent assault.

    Packer did his time and learnt from his mistake, recently joining the Wests Tigers’ leadership group.

    That’s where the comparisons between Carney and Packer end. Packer has kept his nose clean, never putting a foot wrong at the Dragons and will be a great asset to the Tigers.

    Carney, not so much.

    He was charged with drink driving and reckless driving in 2006 and banned from driving for five years. Carney was only 19 and this should have been a wake-up call.

    Not so.

    After another driving misdemeanour in 2007, whereby he borrowed the car of teammate Steve Irwin before leading the police on a chase through Canberra, he was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond. Incredibly, the Raiders sacked Irwin, but retained their golden boy.

    In 2008, Carney re-signed with the Raiders until 2010, but still struggled to learn from past mistakes, with allegations he urinated on a man in a Canberra nightclub. The complaint was withdrawn, but the Raiders suspended him from their Round 21 match with the Titans.

    The club imposed a strict set of guidelines on Carney, who, as a professional rugby league player should be able to follow. He’s not a 17-year-old anymore, he’s now old enough to know better.

    Incredibly, the playmaker asked for an alteration of the guidelines, which the club refused. He was eventually sacked and banned from the NRL until 2010.

    After going on a vandalism spree in Goulburn in February 2009, he played out the year for the Atherton Roosters, where two separate off-field incidents overshadowed his stay; being assaulted by four men in May, and allegedly setting a man’s pants on fire on New Year’s Eve.

    Remarkably, Carney was picked up by glamour club Sydney Roosters and enjoyed his best season to date, playing a key part in the club’s charge to the grand final in 2010, where they were defeated by the St George Illawarra Dragons.

    However, in February 2011, he was charged with low-range drink driving and following two more alcohol-related incidents in the year he was finally released by the club.

    After a good first-up year at the Sharks in 2012, he spurned an offer from the Warriors to sign a five-year deal with the Shire club, but again, his alcohol troubles cut short his stay. In 2014, a photo showing Carney appearing to urinate into his own mouth leaked online and he was sacked.

    He went overseas, plying his trade with Catalans in 2015-16 and Salford in 2017. He’s now been picked up by Intrust Super Cup side Northern Pride, who on their website claim: “Yes, Todd has had a chequered career but having played the last three years in France and England he has certainly matured and learnt from his mistakes.”

    Interesting that he never learnt from his mistakes over the previous 14 years, but whatever.

    Now the 31-year-old has the ambition to make it in the NRL again, with Manly emerging as possible suitors. If I’m Lachlan Croker or Jackson Hastings, I’d be filthy that the club would even contemplate signing Carney.

    Carney clearly does not learn from his mistakes.

    Does he deserve another chance? No.

    The Sydney Roosters gave him a second chance when they plucked him from Atherton on a big-money deal and he blew it. The Sharks gave him another chance and he blew that too.

    The NRL needs to firmly shut the door on any possibility of Todd Carney making a return.

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    The Crowd Says (30)

    • Roar Guru

      February 21st 2018 @ 6:23am
      The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      It’s interesting that his drink driving charges were effectively ignored by club and code yet whizzing in his own face gets a three year ban.

      I think he’s served his time (again). Overall he’s had four years out of the game. I think that’s more than fair for what he’s actually done. There’s also a fair few beat ups in there:

      Getting assaulted by four men makes you guilty of an off field incident? Lighting a mans pants on fire was a bunch of guys lighting farts. The alcohol incident that got him sacked from the Roosters was defying an alcohol ban put in place in the last few weeks of the season by a team that couldn’t make the eight. It was a ludicrous situation and Carney wasn’t the Lone Ranger. But it wasn’t an incident per se.

      He’s paid his dues since his last off field incident. If there’s another he’s gone for good at his age. There’s not much downside for the NRL in letting him play (for a club to sign him is a different story) but plenty of upside. Redemption story and all that.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 8:32am
        mushi said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        “It was a ludicrous situation and Carney wasn’t the Lone Ranger.”

        A bit of context.

        Prior to that incident he’d been done for low range drink driving, the roosters accepted his “I’m a changed man” appeal and let him play. Then he had another alcohol incident with a younger player – got stood down, gave a new version of his “I’m a changed man” speech and got reinstated… then he broke the “team ban”.

        So it’s not really true to say that incident got him sacked. The three incidents combined got him sacked (I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a similar behind closed doors fact pattern at Cronulla) . In that he was most definitely a Lone Ranger.

        But yes the NRL should allow him to be reinstated if a club wants a guy who hasn’t played for 3 years and has clear alcohol issues.

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 12:25pm
          The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          Fair enough about the multiple incidents at the Roosters and they certainly had every right to give him the flick but the timing of the alcohol ban was ridiculous from the Roosters season perspective. If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d suggest that it was done to catch him out. Regardless, if he was silly enough to go out on the sauce in the situation he was in at the time, he deserves what he gets.

          Breaking the alcohol ban is a reason for a club not to sign him and nothing more. It’s not a reason to ban him from the game for life and shouldn’t be considered in that context.

          • February 21st 2018 @ 1:37pm
            mushi said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

            To your last comment that’s great we agree.

            As to the first I think the timing, whether I agree with it or not, was more about seeing who could or would stick to “team” rules and see if they could finish out the year well (I also wrote before the season started that the grand final appearance was lucky and that their worst enemy was going to be expectations).

            But it would be an out there conspiracy theory to suggest it was to just get rid of Carney. They already had two very easy opportunities and had only just reinstated him. In the end I’m not sure they actually fired him. I think his manager asked for a release before it got to that point because Carney had run out of decent versions of “I’m a changed man” and even if he got through this one he’d burnt every bit of goodwill.

            I think that Carney has just screwed up sooooo many times that people actually have trouble keeping tabs.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 10:05am
        Adam Bagnall said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        I never said he was guilty of an off-field incident at the Atherton Roosters, “where two separate off-field incidents overshadowed his stay.” Given his history it wasn’t a good look. Also your defence of Carney during his time at the Sydney Roosters is weak. He defied an alcohol ban, full-stop. Doesn’t matter if it was the first week of pre-season or the last few weeks of the season, he broke the cub-imposed rules, which he has repeatedly done over a long period of time. He was a fulltime professional athlete and that title comes with strict rules and regulations.

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 12:21pm
          The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

          “where two separate off-field incidents overshadowed his stay”

          But one of those off field instances was him getting assaulted by four men. He probably even deserved it but blaming him for that is typical of the hyperbole that comes along with Carney.

          And I don’t think those incidents remotely overshadowed his stay. The narrative at the time was he he’d got back to basics, rediscovered his love of football, was working at the Atherton Hotel (strange employment choice in retrospect!) and the publican there thought of him as a son.

          I’m not defending Carney’s time at the Roosters. The point I’m making is that he defied a ludicrously times alcohol ban. The Roosters had every right to give him the flick. It’s a good reason why another club might not want to sign him, but it’s not a reason to ban him for life and shouldn’t be considered in any such ban.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:00am
      madmax said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      WOW so Carney shouldn’t be given another chance yet Russell packer nearly kills a man & Matt Lodge terrorizes a family with a 9 yr old girl, threatens to kill them then assaults them & it’s OK for them to be given chances to play?? You should be ashamed of yourself mate! Trying to compare what those guys did to what Carney did is a joke.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 9:29am
        Adam Bagnall said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Appreciate your feedback madmax. Packer’s crime was terrible, yes, but he has matured and has gotten himself an education, and been a cleanskin ever since. Lodge’s crimes were far worse than Packer’s in my opinion and he should never be allowed back in the NRL. As the article states, my issue with Carney is he never learns. Why should the NRL allow someone back if he never learns from his mistakes?

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 12:31pm
          The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

          For all Packer’s and Lodge’s maturity and contrition they each spent only 12 months out of the game for violent, aggressive crimes.

          I’m not downplaying Carney’s actions – particularly the drink driving offences – but he’s spent a total of four years out of the game.

          Even if you consider the cumulative effect of Carney’s offences, the penalties are in now way commensurate to the players actions.

          • February 21st 2018 @ 2:20pm
            KenW said | February 21st 2018 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

            I had a lot of trouble cheering for Packer when he was in Dragons colours. Intellectually I know that allowing a motivated person a second chance is the best for everyone. Shunning them forever encourages them to be an outcast, rather than encouraging them to be better, and providing inspiration and pathways to others. Packer appears to have taken that chance, turned his life around and put a lot of time into community service – really he’s been the perfect example of why we should give people opportunities to make things right.

            I still couldn’t quite bring myself to cheer for him knowing that he stomped on an unconscious man’s head though because I don’t live completely intellectually.

            I agree that Lodge’s crime was worse, as a pre-meditated crime rather than a momentary act of violence, and I think it’s going to be hard for fans to forgive regardless of what he does from here.

            Carney has shown himself to be a bit of a ratbag – immature, alcohol problems, disrespectful of the chances he’s been given – guilty on all charges. But none of it is in the same ballpark as the other guys, and if he really did turn it around he’d probably be easier to cheer for than the other 2.

          • February 21st 2018 @ 7:07pm
            Mike from tari said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

            Carney was playing Super League so how was he out of the game, Packer was in prison, Lodge was sacked by the Tigers, went to the states, scarred his victims for life, spent a couple of weeks in Rykers, the reason Lodge was sued was because his lawyers organised a plea bargain with the state prosecutor which his victims did not agree with, hence the civil court action.

            • Roar Guru

              February 21st 2018 @ 8:05pm
              The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

              Checkmate…ok he was out of the NRL for three years.

        • February 21st 2018 @ 10:51pm
          Dwayne pearson said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

          You say carney never learns, you base that over 10 years, he hasn’t bashed someone within an inch of their life. He stuffs up like a lot of young men but generally only hurting himself, if we let him back the worst that can happen is he will be guilty of another drunken indiscretion, but you would rather someone that has nearly killed a man to be applauded for not nearly killing someone for a few years. Seems odd to

    • February 21st 2018 @ 7:07am
      jeff dustby said | February 21st 2018 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      is been 4 years and the infringements werent terrible like Packer and Lodge. Lachlan Croker who has barely played a game of NRL and couldnt get a game in reserves for Canberra last year has no right to get filthy at anything

      • February 21st 2018 @ 9:32am
        Adam Bagnall said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Not sure how you’ve come to that conclusion Jeff. Croker went to Manly looking for a crack at first grade and if they go and sign a bloke who is a loose cannon off the field and has had multiple chances and blew it, he would be pretty disappointed.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 8:04am
      PanthertillIdie said | February 21st 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      I agree with you blokes who make the point that Carney’s infringements are nowhere near what Lodge and Packers are. Saying that, none of them should be playing in the NRL. Packer and Lodge because their violent thugs who caused serious harm and Carney because – how many chances to get your act together?!
      Are the well documented activities of these parasites what the NRL want kids reading about?
      For those that want to drone on about redemption and second chances, I know if I behaved like that there would be no second chance in my job and I suspect a lot of other working men and women would be in that boat too.
      The NRL loses nothing by giving these vermin the flick because somewhere there will be three hungry and talented kids that just need to be given a shot.
      Shouldn’t even be a topic of discussion. Behave appallingly – pack your bags!

      • February 21st 2018 @ 9:34am
        Adam Bagnall said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Agree with your sentiments, why should a serial offender like Carney get yet another shot ahead of a promising young 18 year old looking to find his feet. I know who I’d rather have at my club

        • Roar Guru

          February 21st 2018 @ 12:33pm
          The Barry said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

          I think your last sentence sums it up well Adam.

          I wouldn’t go near him if I were a CEO or a coach…but that doesn’t mean he should get a life ban.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 10:13am
      Bearfax said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      Carney is no saint by a long shot, but there are players in this game who have committed far more serious offences aimed at the harm of others than he has. Add to this that he has remained trouble free for a couple of years now and from my viewpoint I think he has a far better right to positive consideration than some others who have received virtual slaps on the wrist. Carney has acted like an idiot, but is keeping him out of the game going to have a positive impact on him or we the spactators? If others with serious assault charges can get waivers, no way that Carney, despite his stupid early actions, should not be allowed back in. Intended violent action against others is far worse than idiotic behaviour that did nothing more in the end but embarrass the League and himself.

      I would also like to add that the demonisation of drink driving offences, despite how serious they are, ignores that on the road these days excessive speeding, leads to many more fatal accidents. Add to that not pulling over when tired, or being distracted by mobile phones or someone in the backseat, cause just as many fatal accidents these days. Yet we dont make a major issue about those involved in such accidents. All, including drink driving, are negligent behaviour in a virtual missile. But despite the seriousness of those offences, and I’m not diminishing that seriousness, the offences are not with intent to cause harm, like violent offences. That’s where the law is most punitive, where there is INTENT. Intended violence against others should always be seen as amongst the worst criminal actions.

    • February 21st 2018 @ 11:55am
      Paul said | February 21st 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      Adam, I think you’ve missed a trick with your article by focusing on Carney’s “crimes”. You, me or anyone else isn’t in a position to judge whether he’s turned over a new leaf; at best we’re guessing whether he has or has not, so the focus should be on what value would he add to a side, both on and off the filed, if he did come back and play?

      On the field, his pluses are his undoubted footballing ability. The negatives are his age, his lack of NRL standard fitness and whether his skills are still good enough to make a difference for a side.

      Off the field, he still needs to contribute at Club functions, school visits, etc and this is where he’d likely struggle because of the intense media scrutiny. His Club would also be under immense pressure to protect him from temptation, so to speak and obviously if he screwed up once, both he and the Club would cop the blame.

      At the end of the day, the decision about whether he’s picked up by an NRL Club will be financial. If Members and fans don’t like it, they’ll vote with their feet

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