Carney provides missing link for Sharks to turn metres into points
Canberra 22 Cronulla 44
Paul Gallen of the Sharks ploughs into the Raiders defence. Photo: Getty Images
WHEN Todd Carney signed with Cronulla he knew exactly what was needed - him.
That's not Carney trying to be arrogant or boastful. It's a statement many will agree with: the Sharks have long had strength up front but lacked the ability to create. Carney has provided that creativity, and gave the best example of that yesterday in disposing of his former club Canberra.
"It blows me away a bit to win six in a row" ... the Sharks' Todd Carney, right, celebrates with try-scorer Jeff Robson. Photo: Getty Images
''I knew we had a good team,'' Carney said of his decision to link with Cronulla. ''The Sharks always have a good team - they've always been able to get the Sharks up the field, we just obviously struggled to score points. We're starting to build those metres into points. I've always had the belief that we were going to have a good year, but it blows me away a little bit to win six in a row.''
Just as the Sharks continue to improve, so does Carney. He had a hand in three of Cronulla's eight tries, but as importantly his kicking game was superb.
That is timely; Carney's best form since his landmark 2010 has come before a State of Origin series in which he will surely play. Carney was superb in a beaten Country side last weekend and backed that up against Canberra. ''My attack's getting better, the team's attack is getting better,'' Carney said. ''It's a step up from the Parra game [in round seven]. Hopefully that means it's going to keep getting better.''
Yesterday, Carney floated around Canberra Stadium like he owned the joint. In reality, he did - at least some years ago. He was a tenant this time around but he still knew every inch of the stadium.
That he picked this day to really show his worth for the Sharks was kind of rubbing it in. Many in these parts will still be frustrated that he largely wasted his potential in Canberra, before taking the Roosters to a grand final in 2010, after he finally decided to get serious.
He conceded that after the game he copped some stick from some Raiders supporters. The way he responded will have them even more frustrated. Carney's boot set up two tries in the first half, and in the second, it camped the Sharks into the Canberra end. Returning Raiders fullback Josh Dugan was sick of the sight of the ball dropping off Carney's fluorescent boots, as well as the grass in the in-goal.
Of course, Carney wasn't alone. Much of his brilliance this season - and yesterday - has come as a result of Jeff Robson. Carney wasn't as effective with Wade Graham in the halves, but since Robson has joined him, he has been given more freedom and less responsibility. ''Robbo's been around a while, and he just steers the ship,'' Carney said. ''I try and chime in there. If I see something … if I have to take over, I take over.''
Robson also had a day out. He controlled proceedings, allowing Carney to decide when he wanted to join the party, and scored himself on the back of the pressure from Carney's boot.
Sharks captain Paul Gallen said the addition of Carney had been a significant reason for the club's form.
''Toddy was a real blessing for us, and a player that this club really needed,'' Gallen said.
''He was certainly the best half on the field [yesterday], if not the best player. He controlled the game really well. He probably piped up a bit more than he usually does. With 'Robbo' getting that early knock, Toddy took it on himself to lead us around a bit more, and he really did that well.''