Exiled former NRL star Todd Carney and veteran centre Willie Tonga have been unveiled by Super League’s French club Catalan Dragons, fronting a media conference recently.
Both former Origin and Test representatives said they’d had glowing appraisals of the club from former acquaintances – Carney from Roosters coach Trent Robinson, and Tonga from former teammates Casey McGuire and Dallas Johnson.
Happy to overlook Carney’s sordid off-field history, Dragons officials are confident the brilliant playmaker can deliver their first Super League title after a decade in the competition.
Catalan finished seventh in 2014, but advanced to the penultimate week of the season after finals wins over Leeds and Huddersfield. Eventual champs St Helens ended their run a game short of the grand final.
The Dragons’ squad included some names that would be familiar to NRL fans, such as Ben Pomeroy, Michael Oldfield, Ian Henderson, Zeb Taia, Louis Anderson and Jeff Lima, while their linchpin was highly-rated home-grown product Thomas Bosc.
But Carney and Tonga add genuine star power to the line-up. While Carney undoubtedly possesses the talent and unique skill-set to be a dominant figure in the 2015 Super League competition, his ability to stay injury-free must be of some concern.
Since winning the 2010 Dally M Medal after playing every game of the Roosters’ charge to the grand final, Carney played just 67 of 89 games for the Roosters and Sharks before being sacked by the later at the end of June.
Nevertheless, it represents a new start for Carney, Tonga and the Dragons, and curious Australian fans will be keeping half an eye on their progress.