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Fans pick wrong man when abusing Carney: Picker

Date

David Polkinghorne

IN HIS life as a Rooster, Todd Carney lined up a kick for goal in front of a pack of manic Canberra Raiders fans.

They called him every name under the sun and then made a few up to try and put the former Raider off his game at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2010.

But it didn't affect him at all - if anything it made him try that little bit harder - and he duly put it over the black dot.

Some players go to water under pressure, while others thrive under the spotlight.

Raiders second-rower Joe Picker thinks Carney is the latter.

He remembers that day and knew Carney would make the kick, as the Sydney Roosters went on to win 22-12.

And he expects the Cronulla Sharks five-eighth to be looking forward to a hostile reception from the Raiders faithful in Sunday's do-or-die final at Canberra Stadium.

It's just part of what makes Carney tick.

The pair almost grew up playing together.

Picker is from Bigga, on the other side of Goulburn - Carney's home town.

They played together in representative sides coming up through the ages before both ending up at the Raiders.

While Picker is still there, Carney moved on long ago.

A series of alcohol-related incidents led the talented but troubled five-eighth to get sacked by the Canberra club in 2008.

While Carney left disgraced and was banned from playing in 2009, Picker would welcome him back to Raiders HQ with open arms.

''I respect the hell out of Toddy, I used to love playing with him and I always said if he ever did want to come back here and play I'd be over the moon, but this weekend we've got to play against him,'' Picker said.

''I still remember that goal he had to kick in Sydney for the Roosters.

''I don't think he was ever going to miss that with all the Raiders supporters giving it to him - he would've kicked that a million times given the chance.

''He loves it, I reckon he thrives off it, but like I said it's not going to matter what the fans are doing, it's going to be up to us to stop him on the field.''

There hasn't been any banter on text or twitter between the former teammates, but Picker would love to play alongside Carney again.

Instead they'll be on opposite sides of the field both doing their best to make it into the second week of finals.

''I've been playing with Toddy since I was about 11 years old from Goulburn so I've known him for a long time now,'' Picker said.

''No rubbish through the phones, he'll be looking forward to the game just as much as we are.

''It'll be good to come up against him too … I'll say he'll be looking forward to it just as much as us.''

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