Former Sharks, Roosters and Raiders star Todd Carney in 2013.
Former Sharks, Roosters and Raiders star Todd Carney in 2013. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Talk of Todd Carney's return to NRL bubbles along

TODD Carney is back in the news again but this time - on the surface at least - it could be for the right reasons.

One of the most reviled players in the game following a spate of incidents - many of them appalling - Carney was sacked by three clubs during an 11-year NRL stint. He has spent the past three seasons in the UK Super League, firstly with Catalans and this past season with Salford.

But the player who won the Dally M Medal as best in the game in 2010 is keen to come back to the NRL and - surprise, surprise - clubs are apparently lining up to sign him.

Let's not dance around the elephant in the room - Carney is no altar boy. In fact the damage he heaped on the NRL during his tenure makes blokes like Willie Mason, Greg Bird and Mitchell Pearce look like angels.

But in today's magnanimous society where anyone and everyone is seemingly given latitude and permitted the odd second chance or three, Carney probably does deserve another crack at the NRL. He has, apparently, been somewhat of a model citizen while on overseas duty, so much so that the NRL has given him the green light to return - with certain provisos.

Love him or loathe him, Carney was a super talent during his NRL tenure. He played for his state and his country, albeit briefly. But had he kept his nose clean his fleeting rep appearances would have been more.

Carney is an exceptional game manager, possesses wonderful ball skills and a first-class kicking game. Also an accomplished goalkicker, he scored 817 points in his 161 NRL appearances.

Now, at 31, he has time to resurrect a basically wasted career. And if the age of Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Paul Gallen are yardsticks, he has at least three years at this level still in him.

Like props, halves generally take time to mature. When they do, as Carney no doubt has in the more attacking style played in the UK, they will always be in demand back in Australia.

Blake Green is a perfect example. Little better than an average toiler during his four-year struggle at the Eels, Sharks and Bulldogs, Green linked with Melbourne after a four-year stint in England and became a star turn in a star team.

Others who recently flew the Aussie coup to the UK and returned better players include Iosia Soliola, Zeb Taia and Ken Sio, while from the past the names Brad Meyers, Colin Best, Tonie Carroll, Jamie Lyon, Trent Barrett and Allan Langer also spring to mind.

So who needs Todd Carney, the bubbler boy?

I suggest the Rabbitohs would be front and centre. Adam Reynolds desperately needs a creative halves partner and Carney could prove to be the missing link that puts Russell's Rabbits back in the firing line next season.

And speaking of Russell Crowe, the Souths owner is agitated by a second season of failure at Redfern and has apparently resurfaced as a recruiter. Would there be a better man to tame a bad boy than the Gladiator?

News Corp Australia

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