Cronulla Sharks sweat on Todd Carney injury

BRAD WALTER, MICHAEL CHAMMAS
Last updated 10:37 16/02/2014

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Cronulla playmaker Todd Carney is in doubt for the opening match of the season after the Sharks' all-out bid to win the A$380,000 prizemoney on offer to the victors of the NRL Nines in Auckland backfired.

After winning the tournament's opening match against Newcastle 15-12, Cronulla lost 21-15 to Wests Tigers in their second game and now have to beat the Titans on Sunday to have any chance of advancing to the quarter-finals.

But worse than the defeat was the news that Carney had suffered further hamstring problems and may miss the Sharks' round one premiership clash with Gold Coast on March 10.

Cronulla coach Peter Sharp was hopeful Carney would play against the Titans but said the former NSW Origin five-eighth was in doubt after injuring the same hamstring that troubled him during last season.

''We're not too sure, we don't think it's too bad,'' Sharp said.

''But he wouldn't be overly happy doing a hammy. We'll rest him up tonight and see how he is tomorrow. We'll just have to assess it then.''

Despite the loss of Carney and a potential season-ending knee injury to new North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote, Sharp defended the tournament and said he had no regrets about bringing a near full-strength squad to Auckland.

''The concept is great and it's a great day and all that sort of stuff,'' Sharp said

''He [Carney] was just supporting, so he could have done it at training. It is a hefty price but that is our game, unfortunately.''

After being fined A$1 million by the NRL over the supplements program at the club in 2011, Carney earlier admitted the Sharks would appreciate the A$380,000 prizemoney on offer to the winner of Sunday's final more than most.

''I think every team would love that kind of cash and for us it would be great,'' Carney said. ''If we can get to the final and win that, then happy days.''

Carney starred as the Sharks overcame two missed conversion attempts to beat the Knights, but they were unable to withstand the sin-binning of Nathan Gardner against Wests Tigers, who scored two tries during the five minutes Cronulla were forced to play with eight players.

''It was hard because it was the first time it has happened,'' centre Blake Ayshford said. ''They ended up winning by two tries so that hurt us a bit. You would think you would get a couple of warnings before they send someone to the sin bin.''

Gardner was marched after knocking the ball out of the hands of Tigers fullback James Tedesco as he attempted to take a tap following a penalty against Andrew Fifita for laying on him too long.

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Tigers skipper Robbie Farah was also sin-binned later for a professional foul but he appeared to be winding the clock down in the final minute as his side defended their lead.

Meanwhile, Coote was awaiting the results of scans on Saturday night to determine the extent of his knee injury but Cowboys officials fear the worst after their star off-season recruit hobbled off in the seventh minute of North Queensland's 17-8 loss to Manly.

Gold Coast forward Dave Taylor also suffered a thigh injury, while Sydney Roosters prop Isaac Liu is out of the nines tournament due to a knee problem.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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