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4 days ago
Country pivot Todd Carney appears to be out of the running for the NSW halfback gig after coach Laurie Daley revealed the Canberra star would be used exclusively at five-eighth against City on Friday night.
Carney was believed to be amongst the growing list of options being considered for the NSW No.7 jumper for the Origin opener, but Daley said Brett Finch would be employed to control the attack for Country with Carney to be used wide of the ruck.
"I see Todd's strengths more as a runner and support player and I see Brett's strength as more of an organiser and getting us to where we want to be on the footy field," Daley, who is also a NSW selector, said.
"I don't think there'll be much chopping and changing there."
It is believed Carney, who has shifted between halfback and five-eighth with the Raiders this season, won't even be given an opportunity at No.7 should injury strike, bench utility Ben Hornby likely to take over from Finch in such an event.
Told he was being viewed solely as a five-eighth by Daley, Carney said he would take it as a compliment after growing up idolising the former Test skipper as he dominated in the No.6 jersey for Canberra, NSW and Australia.
"Down in Canberra we play spilt halves so it's not too different between five-eighth and half. Laurie's probably going to play it a bit different and it may suit my game a bit more playing five-eighth running out a bit wider," Carney said.
"I've been looking forward to working with him and I guess I've got one of the best five-eighths to show me how to do it.
"I suppose I get a bit more freedom and get out a bit wider where the defence is a bit looser and try and bring more of a running game.
"I lose that a bit at halfback because I try and make it a really big onus to organise the guys and I get away from my running game."
It's different to the sort of running game which almost saw his rugby league career ruined last year when he led Canberra police on a high-speed pursuit through suburban streets before taking off on foot.
He later handed himself in and after being found guilty of a string of offences was stripped of his licence and forced to undertake 200 hours of community service.
He was suspended by the club and his playing future was up the air, but on the brink of his first senior representative game, he knows it could have been a whole lot worse.
"This time last year I was looking at where my career was going to be with what had gone on," Carney said.
"But I feel like I've come a fair way and this is the first stepping stone to bigger things, this was a goal at the start of the year and I'm slowly climbing up the mountain.
"There was the fear (at the time) that it was all gone, definitely.
"I honestly didn't know what was going to happen in court and what the Raiders were going to do.
"I'm just thankful to them for sticking by me."
Country received some good news on Thursday, with backrower Andrew Ryan confirming himself as a definite starter after his sore knee came up well following training on Wednesday.