Cronulla are close to reaching a settlement with Todd Carney over an unfair dismissal claim brought against the club by the former Sharks five-eighth in a development that could precede his return to the NRL
The former NSW State of Origin playmaker and Dally M award winner, now based in England with Salford Red Devils, was seeking close to $2.4 million in damages after being sacked by Cronulla after his notorious “bubbler” incident at a Sutherland Shire nightspot in 2014.
The matter had been set down for a hearing to begin on Monday at which Carney and former Sharks officials were expected to appear. The pending mutually-agreed settlement will avoid the infamous episode and its aftermath being played out in public again on the eve of the club’s campaign to win back-to-back premierships in this year’s finals.
The 31-year-old’s legal team had claimed that Cronulla did not follow due process in the manner that his contract was torn up, but the Sharks said in their defence that he had breached the NRL’s code of conduct and revealed other alleged indiscretions during his time at the club.
It is believed Carney is to be given a six-figure sum as part of the settlement although the Sharks and his legal representative declined to comment when contacted on Monday.
The NRL confirmed that whatever payment was made to the player it would not be included in the Sharks’ salary cap as it was a legal issue..
Previously sacked by Canberra and released from the final year of his contract by Sydney Roosters, Carney has not played in the NRL since being discarded by Cronulla following the release of a photo on social media that showed him urinating towards his mouth.
It was assumed that incident spelled the end of an NRL career that included a grand final appearance with the Roosters in 2010, but the door has not completely been shut on Carney.
Off contract at Salford, Carney said last month he would wait until after the Manchester team’s run in the Challenge Cup and his legal dispute with Cronulla was finalised before making a decision on his future.
If he is picked up by any NRL club his return would have to get the green light from the game’s integrity unit and would likely have conditions attached to it. However, after avoiding drama in the English Super League there is no suggestion that League Central would oppose his registration.
At Carney’s age he would not be able to command anything like the club record salary he was awarded at the Sharks in 2013, but shapes as a cut-price option for a club chasing additional class and depth in their halves.
One such team that could be a good fit is Brisbane, who brought Benji Marshall in as an experienced back-up to their playmakers this season, but have since seen the New Zealand international sign with his former club Wests Tigers.
South Sydney is another that could potentially benefit from Carney’s creative influence.