The shocking image of Todd Carney urinating into his own mouth in a pub bathroom circulated on social media has inevitably resulted in the star playmaker being sacked by Cronulla – the third NRL club to cut him loose for alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours.
While some have questioned whether the disgusting – but arguably harmless – incident was worthy of Carney being jettisoned, the troubled 28-year-old’s rap sheet is as long as the Sharks’ honours list is short, and the club had virtually no option.
Carney has been granted numerous chances by the Raiders, Roosters, Sharks and the NRL – not to mention the plethora of individuals who have stuck their necks out for him – but the wayward No.6 gun continues to make the same mistakes.
Cronulla could not have retained Carney and still maintained the club’s reputation or dignity. For $650,000-a-year, he owed the club so much more than this.
The curiosity would have already got the better of most people, scouring the Internet for the offending image. Suffice to say, it gains an automatic entry into the Grand Final of viral shockers alongside Joel Monaghan’s Mad Monday ‘dog act’.
Unlike Monaghan, Carney has a diabolical list of previous alcohol-related atrocities against his name. But just like his former Canberra teammate, the disgusting photo has likely ended Carney’s NRL career.
Whether your reaction is of amusement and disbelief or genuine disgust – the two main camps people were divided into after Monaghan’s slip-up – it is difficult to argue a case in Carney’s favour in regards to keeping his rich NRL contract, which still had three years left to run.
Although it wasn’t Carney who posted the photo to Twitter, players are well aware of the increased danger of anything they do being made public – and the message that urinating into your own mouth in a pub toilet is unacceptable should go without saying, regardless of the risk of it going viral.
Blaming the social media age for these kinds of stuff-ups doesn’t cut it anymore. Carney needs to take full responsibility – something that obviously hasn’t been his strong suit in a tumultuous decade in the NRL limelight.
Carney has found a surprising amount of sympathisers, mostly among current players and former greats such as Andrew Johns, but also from the public – about 25 per cent if the online polls are a good gauge. But the overwhelming response from League scribes is that Carney, while an endearing character and far from malicious, has messed up too many times for the Sharks not to sack him.
Cronulla and the NRL will also undoubtedly work closely with Carney to ensure his immediate welfare. But the NRL should prevent him linking with another club, at the very least de-registering him for 2015. A police record will probably prevent Carney from resuming his career in the European Super League, as Monaghan did with great success, but that can’t come into the NRL’s consideration.
Of course, the unfortunate losers in this sorry tale are the Sharks – the third club to keep rolling the dice on Carney and come up with snake eyes. Struggling on and off the paddock, the club will battle to add to their meagre 2014 tally of three wins, looking a shadow of an NRL team when regular halves Carney and Jeff Robson have been sidelined through injury.
With a dearth of quality playmakers on the market, the signs for on-field improvement in 2015 – even before ASADA sanctions come into the equation – are very, very grim for Cronulla.
“It’s silly … it’s stupid (but) he is only doing it to himself,” Johns said in defence of Carney not being sacked.
That statement is true to an extent – he has done it to himself, yet again. Carney has sacrificed almost $2 million in contract money. But he has also done it to his club. One too many times.
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