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England’s Rugby Football League has given the green light to Todd Carney to resume his rugby league career with Catalans in the English Super League next season and that makes him a decent bet to win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award.
To say that Carney is a controversial character but would be a gross understatement: not one, not two but three teams in his native Australia have released him due to disciplinary issues, the latest being Cronulla after photographs of him bubbling – one will not go into any more detail about what that entails – appeared on various social media networks.
It is long odds that Carney will ever play for a National Rugby League side in Australia again because the governing body would be a big price to approve any contract given its post-bubbling statements. So Carney is destined to spend the rest of his playing days in Europe, starting with Catalans.
One can see why Catalans, the only English Super League team based outside England, has decided to take a punt on Carney. At his best, Carney was one of the National Rugby League’s premier playmakers, debuting for Australia in 2010 and making three State of Origin appearances for New South Wales. And Carney’s best is not behind him at just 28.
Carney has a habit of playing extremely well in his first season on the books of a side. Carney was Canberra’s rookie of the year in 2004 despite only making a handful of starts in the National Rugby League. Following a 12-month ban from the National Rugby League – Carney spent it starring for a bush team, Atherton, in Queensland – he returned to the big time as a Sydney player in 2010. Carney was instrumental in Sydney qualifying for the National Rugby League Grand Final and he won the prestigious Dally M Medal awarded to the competition’s best player during the regular season. And Carney inspired Cronulla to make the National Rugby League Finals Series in his first season as a Sharks star, his efforts earning him his three New South Wales jumpers.
A Carney with a point to prove is a valuable commodity and that, perhaps, is the real reason why there was opposition to him resurrecting his career in the English Super League from teams other than Catalans, most notably Leeds. One thinks that Catalans has made a good move signing Carney.
The Steve Prescott Man of the Steel Award, recently named after the late Hull, St Helens and Wakefield fullback who died from a rare form of stomach cancer in 2013, has been won by four Australians in the last 16 years – Adrian Vowles of Castleford in 1999, Jamie Lyon of St Helens in 2005, Brett Hodgson of Huddersfield in 2009 and Pat Richards of Wigan in 2010. Only Lyon is in the same class as Carney.
One does not doubt that the English Super League has made a fair degree of progress over the last 10 or so seasons but anyone who thinks that it is close to the standard of the National Rugby League is wrong. Carney was the best player in Australia’s domestic rugby league competition in 2010 and he has been one of the elite players in it for many years. If Carney reproduces his best form for Catalans then he is going to be the best player in the English Super League, whether his large number of detractors like it or not.
Sky Bet has begun betting on the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award and Carney is its favourite at odds of 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22 , with two Australian playmakers, Luke Walsh and Michael Dobson, third and fourth respectively in its list. Walsh and Dobson would be 100 times the odds of Carney to win the Dally M Medal if they were playing in the National Rugby League. And, yes, 100 times the odds is no exaggeration. Walsh did not cut the mustard with Penrith and Dobson could not break into the Newcastle side ahead of Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts.
Back Carney at odds of 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22 to win the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award and hope that he stays on the straight and narrow during his first season as a Catalans player.
Todd Carney to win the Steve Prescott Man of the Steel Award
Odds: 9/2 5.50 +450 4.50 4.50 -0.22
Where to Bet: Sky Bet