NRL: Warriors on quiet hunt for Carney

By Michael Brown

Club waits in shallows for Todd Carney to decide which way he'll move when he comes off contract

Todd Carney seems to have settled down off the field and is a proven playmaker on it. Photo / Getty Images
Todd Carney seems to have settled down off the field and is a proven playmaker on it. Photo / Getty Images

The Warriors are keeping a watching brief on Todd Carney's movements and could attempt to lure him to Mt Smart if things don't work out at Cronulla.

The 26-year-old five-eighth is off contract at the end of the season and had been ready to re-commit to the Sharks until coach Shane Flanagan was stood down amid the drugs scandal engulfing the club. Carney knows Matt Elliott and the Warriors coach is keen to sign him.

"I have known Todd since he was 15 and we are quite close," Elliott said. "We are not chasing him at this stage. I have spoken to Toddy and his preference is to stay at Cronulla. I said, 'If that preference changes or you're not going to get a deal done there, let us know.' He hasn't let me know."

The Warriors are now reviewing their squad for 2014 and identifying who to try to keep and who to let go. About one-third of their first-grade squad are off contract, including Manu Vatuvei, Feleti Mateo, Nathan Friend, Steve Rapira, Jerome Ropati, Alehana Mara and Pita Godinet. Elijah Taylor has already signed with Penrith for next season.

Carney has a chequered background, and in 2008 was deregistered as a player by the NRL for off-field misbehaviour while at Canberra. He returned to play for the Roosters in 2010 but was released from his contract a year early in September 2011 after a series of alcohol-related incidents.

His talents as a player, however, are unquestionable and he has featured in one test for Australia and last year was a standout for NSW in State of Origin.

Carney is the type of player the Warriors would pursue. He seems to have settled down off the field and is a proven playmaker on it. The club struggles to attract the biggest names in the game but with the resources now at its disposal can target players at the next level like Carney.

They already have Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai, who are both locked in until the end of 2015, and Harry Siejka (2014) in the halves but a proven playmaker off contract is a rare commodity. The Dragons and Panthers are also said to be interested in Carney.

The Warriors will get a good look at Carney on Sunday when they tackle Cronulla in Sydney. Both clubs are under pressure but the Sharks will go in as favourites after two gritty performances that have yielded one win and one defeat.

Flanagan may also be back in the coach's box by Sunday, which would be a massive boost for the players who might otherwise have been struggling psychologically after six weeks of intense scrutiny brought about by the drugs investigations.

"I believe in the quality of people we have but we are going to have to be good," Elliott said. "They are not going to hand us the game. I know a lot of the players there, having coached a few of them, and I know the resolve those individuals have got.

"Even last week against Souths [when they went down 14-12] I thought they showed a heap of resolve. It's going to be a challenge for us but we need to make sure it's a challenge for them, too."

Centre Dane Nielsen (calf) and fullback Kevin Locke (hip flexor) are expected to be fit to play on Sunday.

- NZ Herald

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