Cronulla Sharks five-eighth Todd Carney has reportedly been sacked by the NRL club after a photo of him engaging in a vulgar act in a hotel bathroom was widely circulated on social media but chief executive Steve Noyce is denying a decision has been reached.
The image, which is too graphic to publish and has yet to be authenticated, appears to show the Cronulla Sharks player urinating towards his mouth while standing at a urinal.
The photo is believed to have been taken in Sydney on Saturday night, not in Brisbane on Friday during the Sharks’ celebrations after their dramatic upset win over the Broncos, in which Carney starred. It is the latest incident to hurt Carney’s career, which has been marred by alcohol-related issues.
News Corp is reporting Cronulla officials have terminated his contract.
However, Noyce responded to Fairfax Media by saying that "no decision" has been made on Carney's future. NRL officials are yet to be informed of a decision.
Carney is understood to be on a deal worth $700,000 per season which is not due to expire until the end of the 2018 season.
Carney joined the Sharks in 2012 after being dismissed two years into a three-year contract with the Roosters after he broke a club-issued alcohol ban in 2011.
He had previously spent a year playing for a regional Queensland team after a string of alcohol-related incidents during his time playing for the Canberra Raiders.
The Raiders sacked Carney in 2008 after he was suspended by the club for allegedly urinating on somebody’s head at a Canberra nightclub.
Earlier on Sunday, Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce told Fairfax Media he had been in touch with the NRL about the image. "I am aware of the photo," Mr Noyce said. "I've spoken to the NRL and we'll investigate the matter."
Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns had leapt to the defence of Cronulla's Todd Carney after a disturbing photo allegedly of the troubled NRL star was posted online on Saturday night.
‘‘Surely they couldn’t sack him for that,’’ Johns said on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show. ‘‘It’s silly ... it’s stupid (but) he is only doing it to himself.’’
The competition's head of football, Todd Greenberg, told Triple M: "We're clearly not in the business to talk about negativity for rugby league, we want to talk about the positive things. These things derail the conversation and that doesn't please us.
"If there's one thing that we've seen under Dave Smith's leadership over the last 12 months is that we'll do things consistently, and we'll do it appropriately through the progress 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."
The image was published on Twitter and has since been retweeted and shared with comments.
Carney's agent, David Riolo, told Fairfax Media he was unable to comment while the matter was under investigation.
The 2010 Dally M medal winner also played for NSW in the State of Origin for the first time in 2012.