With his NRL career hanging by a thread, Dally M Medallist Todd Carney is poised to make a surprise defection to France in a bid to escape the Sydney spotlight.
The Sunday Telegraph has been told the Sydney Roosters are in negotiations with French-based UK Super League club Les Catalans for Carney to play there next season.
The move is viewed by Roosters powerbrokers as a way for Carney to get rehabilitated away from the glare of Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
It is understood powerful Roosters chairman Nick Politis has spoken to Les Catalans coach and former Roosters assistant Trent Robinson about helping Carney get his life back on track in the south of France.
If the stint was a success, then Carney could return to the Roosters in 2013.
Carney enjoys a close bond with Robinson, who was one of the Roosters’ assistants during last year’s grand final charge.
Sydney Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce said he was unaware of any move for Carney to head to France, but The Sunday Telegraph has had the plan confirmed by people within the club’s inner-circle.
Carney’s agent David Riolo has extensive contacts in French rugby league and union and facilitated the move for Karmichael Hunt to play the 15-a-side code with Biarritz last year.
Les Catalans coach Robinson is working out how to accommodate Carney into the roster as an imported player.
The Roosters will refrain from sacking Carney and instead present this option an alternative path to deal with his issues.
What is certain is that he won’t be playing for the Tricolours next season. Roosters coach Brian Smith and senior players Braith Anasta and Anthony Minichiello are understood to have lost faith in Carney after his latest broken promise about abstaining from alcohol.