NRL: Carney set to play in round one, says coach

Carney yesterday joined his teammates in running with the full Sharks squad for the first time. Photo / Getty Images
Carney yesterday joined his teammates in running with the full Sharks squad for the first time. Photo / Getty Images

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has delivered the news every Sharks fan has been desperate to hear all off-season - star playmaker Todd Carney will be ready to go for the NRL season-opener.

Carney yesterday joined his teammates in running with the full Sharks squad for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon in last year's finals series, Flanagan revealing the NSW Origin pivot was ahead of schedule.

Off-contract at the end of the season, Carney was thought to be in danger of missing the early rounds of the competition, but Flanagan fully expects to have him available to face Gold Coast on March 10.

"He has been training on his own a fair bit but he hasn't been doing a lot of team stuff," Flanagan said.

"He's back in doing the team stuff now, the opposed work.

"That was exciting for us to have him back, and he slotted pretty much straight back in.

"Give him a couple of weeks doing a bit of the team sessions and some defensive work and I think he'll be ready to go."

Flanagan said it had always been the plan to have Carney back on deck for round one.

Carney battled the injury through the back half of last season before it finally gave way during the Sharks' qualifying final loss to Canberra, when he crumpled to the Canberra Stadium turf as he attempted to step off his right foot.

"Our medical staff have always said the plan was to have him ready for round one and he's in front of that schedule - I have no reason to believe that he won't be ready," Flanagan said. "He's got three weeks of real solid team stuff now."

Flanagan said the squad was doing its best to put behind it the drama surrounding the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into the club, focusing instead on Saturday night's final trial against Newcastle in Tamworth.

-AAP

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