Todd Carney's NRL career appears to be over after Cronulla sacked the five-eighth after a photo of him engaging in a vulgar act circulated on social media on Saturday night.
The Sharks released a statement on Sunday evening to say: "The Cronulla Sharks Football Club has today after careful consideration and lengthy deliberation, including discussions with senior NRL management, made a decision to terminate Todd Carney’s NRL playing contract effective immediately. At the Sharks we are committed to building a successful club, a club with strong values and a club which sets and respects high standards in all aspects of its operations and activities. When Todd was first signed to the Sharks he was made well aware of his responsibilities both on and off the field, to himself, the club and to the game in general, however the photograph that appeared last night on social media does not meet the values and standards the club is looking to uphold and take into the future.
"As with any difficult decision, whilst you can’t change the past, it is important to put measures in place that can deliver positive outcomes both in the present and into the future. The club and the NRL will be committed to working with Todd, his family and his management in implementing appropriate counseling and support, with the start of this process to begin tonight."
Carney was photographed in the bathroom of Cronulla nightclub Northies, believed to be on Saturday night, urinating towards his mouth while standing at a urinal. It is the latest scandal in his drama-plagued career.
It is understood Cronulla board members held a teleconference on Sunday, while Sharks chief executive Steven Noyce was in contact with the NRL Integrity Unit over the potential punishment for the player he previously sacked in 2011 when he was in charge of the Roosters.
Suspended coach Shane Flanagan declined to comment on the player he brought to the club in 2012. Flanagan recently extended Carney's contract at the Sharks until the end of 2018 on a deal worth close to $700,000 a season.
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg earlier said the NRL wouldn't shy away from taking a tough stance against Carney.
"I think we just have to make sure we do this properly," Greenberg said. "If there's one thing that we've seen under Dave Smith's leadership over the past 12 months is that we'll do things consistently, and we'll do it appropriately through the process of the Integrity Unit and we'll deal with it. We're certainly not shy of making hard decisions when they need to be made but we have to do it with the fullness of the information that becomes available to us. We'll be judged on how we deal with the issues but we have to deal with them appropriately and we have to deal with them properly. Where we have to make tough decisions we'll make them and we've clearly done that over the past 12 months."
Carney was sacked by Canberra in 2008 after allegedly urinating on a patron's head at a Canberra nightclub, one of a series of alcohol-related misdemeanours during his time with the Raiders. He then spent 2009 playing park football in far north Queensland, before returning to the NRL in 2010, when he guided the Roosters to the grand final. He was then sacked in 2011 by Noyce for breaking a club-issued alcohol ban.
Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns leapt to Carney's defence. "Surely they couldn’t sack him for that,’’ he said on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show. "It’s silly ... it’s stupid [but] he is only doing it to himself."
The image was published on Twitter and retweeted many times and shared with comments.
Carney's agent David Riolo said he was unable to comment while the matter was under investigation.
smh.com.au, with Rose Powell