Carney recovery littered with obstacles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Carney recovery littered with obstacles

By Steve Jancetic 21/04/2011 06:22:25 PM Comments (0)

Todd Carney should have been spending the next few weeks getting sized-up for a first NSW Origin jumper.

Instead, the Sydney Roosters star will spend it pondering - with the help of medical experts - whether he really wants to lace on a football boot ever again.

To do that, Carney must not only conquer his alcohol-related demons, but also convince those around him he has done so.

Judging by the mood of NRL chief executive David Gallop this week, it is not exactly clear which task will be easier for the 24-year-old to accomplish.

So well trodden is Carney's path to Gallop's door that the pair should seriously consider car-pooling.

From his trouble-plagued days at Canberra to his rise and fall at the Roosters, Gallop has found himself condemning, praising and defending the talented playmaker in equal measure.

But, given his demeanour as he addressed the media this week, it almost seemed as if Gallop had taken Carney's latest indiscretion personally following assurances he would stay off the drink after getting off a drink-driving charge earlier this month.

"He was contrite and I trust he was genuine in that," Gallop said of Carney's attitude only a matter of weeks ago.

"The fact that he was so reckless about those undertakings to me demonstrates someone in a fair bit of trouble mentally."

Roosters officials admit there has been something amiss with Carney all season, with last weekend's episode - when he engaged in a long drinking session with teammate Anthony Watts - tipping them and Carney over the edge.

The club suspended him from all football activities while also ramping up his medical assistance.

While the lyrics may have changed, it's a song we've all heard before.

Canberra had hoped to build their future around the talented playmaker, but having reached their wits end after yet another alcohol-fuelled atrocity in 2008, the Raiders offered Carney a five-point rehabilitation plan.

It was promptly rejected and Carney was subsequently sacked, with the NRL announcing they would not register a contract with another NRL club until 2010 at the earliest.

He headed to northern Queensland where he cleaned himself up while playing park football, before embarking on a stunning return with the Roosters last season.

Carney didn't just return from the rugby league abyss to play football again - he returned to become the best player in the game.

He earned a Test jumper and seemingly held the hopes of a state desperate to end Queensland's State of Origin dominance in his hands.

But as quick as his resurrection was, it had nothing on the speed of his downfall, with alcohol again seemingly at the heart of his troubles.

Roosters coach Brian Smith applauded the club's decision to stick with Carney - and it had nothing to do with wins and losses.

"To be honest, I fear for most guys' careers when they finish rugby league because it's such a fantastic ride being involved in footy," Smith said.

"A lot of guys find it difficult to adjust to life as a 'human' as I call it jokingly.

"It's a special opportunity that we all have to be involved in professional sport.

"We try wherever possible to reach the football expectations that we have of our players, but also be there to treat them as valuable young men, not just valuable young footballers."

The club now plays its most important role in keeping Carney at the centre of its thoughts, with the initial shock of his fall from grace now removed.

Just days out and the media has already moved on - with articles about Carney's indiscretions and wellbeing replaced by speculation as to who will wear the NSW No.6 jumper and the Roosters vowing to win the competition without their brightest star.

Carney's chequered past has many critics questioning whether he will ever reach his full potential or in fact play in the NRL again.

But it is that same history that some - including Gallop - point to when they look for proof that he can make it back.

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