The Cronulla Sharks may be the final hope in Australian rugby league for troubled soul Todd Carney.
The Daily Telegraph understands the Sharks have shown preliminary interest in securing Carney, released last week from his Sydney Roosters contract a year from completion.
It is understood Sharks coach Shane Flanagan will meet with Carney’s manager, David Riolo, sometime later this week. The pair will discuss several players, including Carney’s future.
Cronulla chairman Damian Irvine does harbour concerns though whether his club’s fans would accept Carney, now discarded by the Roosters and Canberra Raiders for on-going alcohol issues.
The Sharks have a host of halves – Albert Kelly, John Morris, Chad Townsend, Jeff Robson and Wade Graham – but privately feel Carney would give the club an immediate injection of high quality. Asked last night whether his club would be interested in Carney, Flanagan only said: “No comment.”
Flanagan and Irvine have already held internal discussions about whether the Sharks could somehow rehabilitate Carney.
Another strong option for Carney is playing with French Super League club Catalans or European rugby union.
NRL chief executive David Gallop said he would demand to meet with Carney before registering any contract for the 2010 Dally M Medal winner.
Irvine was in meetings yesterday afternoon and unavailable for comment but it appears Toyota Stadium is the only possible home left for Carney.The Daily Telegraph was yesterday told South Sydney and North Queensland were also interested in the star five-eighth – but both clubs rejected the speculation.
Souths do have a halfback vacancy after Chris Sandow signed with Parramatta.
Asked were Souths interested in Carney, chief executive Shane Richardson said: “No, definitely not.
“We haven’t spoken to David Riolo and we haven’t spoken to Todd Carney. And we don’t intend to.
“We have (rising halfback) Adam Reynolds next year – that is where we are going. We also have John Sutton. We don’t need another halfback.
“I’m not down on Todd Carney. I wish him all the best. We just aren’t interested in him,” Richardson said.
Cowboys coach Neil Henry was another to rule out signing Carney. “He’s not on our radar at all,” Henry said. “I haven’t spoken to Todd or David Riolo.”
One player manager was unsure whether Carney would in fact secure a club.
“Todd Carney is damaged goods,” he said. “Who would want to sign him?”