Round 4 kicked off last night with the Sydney Roosters overcoming traditional rivals South Sydney Ra...
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This weekend some bloke, for some odd reason, took a photo of Todd Carney self-watering himself at a urinal. Don't know why you'd want a photo of that, but that's for another discussion.
However, this image was then passed around on social media by some other bloke seemingly desperate for his 5 minutes of fame. Any publicity is good publicity it seems for this bloke.
All that aside, it has led to the Cronulla Sharks terminating Carney's lucrative contract. His initial contract with the Sharks in late 2011 reportedly contained strict disciplinary clauses. His contract was upgraded in 2013.
If those clauses remained after he re-signed, then Carney's lewd act could be argued to be a breach of contract, hence his sacking.
Was his act enough to deserve a sacking? Probably not. Is it a good look? Definitely not. Is it the sort of publicity the Sharks could have done without? Definitely.
As far as Carney's prior indiscretions are concerned, this is possibly the tamest. Essentially, since moving to Sydney, Carney has been better behaved, but it's hard not to have been considering the moronic antics he got up to at Canberra (and later in Atherton).
This isn't a story about Carney being sacked because of the recent image. This is about Carney's past catching up with him and Carney not being mature enough to simply behave himself and act professional at all times.
At the time, it's alleged that the Sharks CEO Steve Noyce had repeatedly tried to get in touch with Carney after the image surfaced, but Carney wouldn't return the calls. Carney later said he wanted "an opportunity to talk to the players firstly and (then) talk to the board and staff."
According to Carney, Noyce said he'd consider it, but then ten minutes later he learnt that he was going to be sacked. Carney said he "felt betrayed and lied to." He went on to state that if someone else was running the club other than Steve Noyce (who terminated Carney's contract when he was CEO at the Sydney Roosters) then he wouldn't have been sacked.
Regarding the image, Carney didn't know the photo had been taken nor did he expect it to turn up on social media. A remorseful Carney said "as much as it's hurt Cronulla and my career, it's hurt my pride and integrity as a person."
The problem for Carney is that he has failed to show a modicum of maturity in this whole saga. He hasn't admitted that he shouldn't have done what he did in the first place. He also hasn't apologised for it. To try and shift the blame for his sacking to some conspiracy to oust him by Steve Noyce is also very immature. Noyce didn't force Carney to do what he did at the urinal, or take the photo, or publish it online and thus bring more bad publicity to the club.
The Sharks board acted in a hastily yet disorganised manner. Carney wasn't offered an opportunity to explain himself directly to the board and players which I think is concerning. It makes the board appear as though they panicked.
For Carney, his past has caught up with him. His previous transgressions undoubtedly played a large role in his fate this week.
The real victims in all of this though are the clubs fans. They have had little to celebrate this year and when they finally had a reason to; it was taken away from them by a moment of utter stupidity. The fact they keep turning up to games shows their resilience and passion for their club.
The other issue here is the apparent lack of professional support provided to Carney. It's no secret he has struggled with alcohol and off-field incidents and as part of his punishment from his earlier incidents he was ordered to undertake rehabilitation. But it appears there was no follow up. And it appears now that the players are checking up on him to make sure he's okay.
The Sharks have announced they will assist Carney with counselling and support. It concerns me that the club, knowing his past, waited for Carney to make a mistake before providing such essential services to a young who desperately needs them.
The RLPA needs to work much more closely with clubs and players to ensure that support and counselling is readily available at all times for all players.
Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
The Sharks, in a haphazard manner, have taken the right action. This sort of behaviour should not be condoned. Sure there are players at other clubs who are still playing despite doing worse. That however is an issue of integrity for those clubs and a reflection of the culture they will accept to achieve success.
Cronulla while struggling this year have shown that their integrity is more valuable to them then success. It may seem to be a bit harsh given their current issues (no major sponsor, suspended coach, ASADA), but it is certainly noble.