Todd Carney has effectively been banned for life by the NRL after the competition's governing body declared it was "highly unlikely" the sacked Cronulla five-eighth would be allowed back.
The fallout from the termination of Carney's A$650,000-a-season (NZ$700,000) contract with the Sharks continued on Monday as Cronulla's training session was called off, Sharks players visited him at his apartment and a Twitter user going by the name of @MarkRaider1 was identified as the person who was responsible for uploading the vile photo of the player on social media that has cruelled his career.
Having now been sacked by three clubs the 28-year-old's options appear to be limited to a switch of countries or codes with the NRL running out of patience with his long and decorated off-field and alcohol-dominated rap sheet.
NRL chief operating officer, former New Zealand Rugby League boss Jim Doyle, said on Monday night that it was highly unlikely Carney would be registered with another club.
"Firstly, a club would need to determine that they want him to be part of their team," Doyle said. "And I would be surprised if any club made that decision considering his past. Then he would need to convince the NRL that he is a fit and proper person to play our game - and we would naturally take into account his past when making that assessment.
"Given he has been terminated from three clubs it is most unlikely he would be cleared to rejoin a club in the NRL."
While Carney was left reeling by the Sharks' decision to part ways with him, his agent David Riolo told Fairfax's 2UE radio in Sydney that the photo - in which Carney is shown urinating towards his own mouth in the bathroom of Cronulla hotel Northies - was "a set-up, like when people stand in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa", and that it was never meant to go further than friends.
"The person who took the photo contacted me this morning by text and said 'My phone got lost' - supposedly - and that's how the photo got out. It was meant to be a joke," Riolo said.
The first-known tweet of the photo was at 10.19pm on Saturday from @MarkRaider1's account which lists Mark Miler as the user. It was captioned: "No way this is not true."
On Monday night, Channel 9 claimed that Carney's friend Mick Robinson took the image before sending the photo on to his brother who lost his phone at the races last weekend. Robinson said Carney "did not drink his own urine". The image then appeared on social media.
While the Sharks abruptly cut Carney on Sunday the club's welfare manager Damien White said he would remain in contact with the exiled former NSW State of Origin and one-Test playmaker.
"I'll have an ongoing support role with him," White said. "We've got a few things to work through over the next few days. I know him well enough to know that he's resilient enough to get through this."
Mick Nasser, the north Queensland publican who employed Carney for a year in 2009 after he had been cut by Canberra and deregistered by the NRL, said the ex-Dally M Player of the Year did not deserve to forfeit his career over the latest indiscretion.
"He's had plenty of chances and another chance won't hurt," Nasser said. "He hasn't done anything criminal, he hasn't been charged ... it's just a silly act on the grog."
If Carney has played the final game of a troubled and truncated NRL career he at least went out in style on the field, starring in the Sharks' comeback win over the Broncos in Brisbane last Friday night. Nasser was present at Suncorp Stadium to see the game after making the trip down from Atherton.
"He's still got a lot to offer the game. He's done well for the NRL, and put bums on seats when he plays," Nasser said.
"It's just sad, a shame. Basically, he's a very good honest person ... it's just a shame it's turned out like this. The way social media is and people drink - you just leave yourself open."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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