Hamming it up: Todd Carney poses for a photo during his infamous night out. Photo: Facebook
They are the other photos from the night that ended Todd Carney’s career.
They are of Carney, again hamming it up for the cameras, blissfully unaware he has literally pissed away the biggest contract ever handed to a Cronulla player.
They were taken by the staff at Shire nightspot Old Joe’s and feature, among others, Mick Robinson, the man who took the picture which remains the talk of town.
Big night out: Todd Carney and friends live it up. Photo: Facebook
Of course, they have not been circulated as widely as the one Robinson took at the urinal. The one which Perez Hilton headlined on his website: ‘‘Australian Rugby Player Kicked Off His Team After A Photo Of Him Peeing Into His Own Mouth Is Leaked!’’
That it is a joke which backfired badly is beyond question. There had been any number of warnings about Carney’s increasingly erratic behaviour, all of which he chose to ignore. Like the fact the Sharks had chased another pivot, Benji Marshall, with much vigour in the belief it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen. There were cautions from well-meaning staff that several board members were ‘‘off’’ Carney and that he should be careful not give them an excuse to terminate his contract.
If ever there was a sign he was in denial, Carney – a man with a rap sheet as long as his arm – continued to party hard. Last November, he was advertised in local papers as the ‘‘celebrity guest’’ at a Liquorland store opening in Concord.
Career fading to black: Todd Carney is highly unlikely to play in the NRL again after being sacked by a third club for off-field misbehaviour. Photo: Getty Images
Whether the photo which undid him was a prank or not is a point of conjecture. Cronulla CEO Steve Noyce, when asked whether Carney had told him it was a set-up which didn’t require him to drink his own urine, told Triple M: ‘‘No, that’s not what he said.’’ When pressed on the matter, Noyce refused to ‘‘get into the specifics’’.
However, the man who took the photo was adamant. ‘‘No, if you look closely at the original photo – I don’t know what photos are out there now – you can see the wee goes past his mouth and hits the wall,’’ said Robinson. ‘‘He didn’t actually put the urine in his mouth.’’
Which raises the question – was the act was a one-off? Fairfax Media is aware of another vulgar act involving Carney several years ago which was also photographed. But unlike this one, it didn’t end up on social media.
Any publicity is good publicity: The advertisement featuring Todd Carney launching a Liquorland store. Photo: Supplied
It’s understood some of Carney’s friends advised him to tell officials the latest stunt was an old photo, in the hope the explanation might save his career. The 28-year-old never entertained the thought, although the scar on his left cheek would have been a giveaway had he tried.
The first tweet of ‘‘the bubbler’’ was posted by @MarkRaider1, also known as Mark Miler, at 10:19pm last Saturday. He was the same person involved in a Twitter spat with another sacked Raider, Josh Dugan. By mid-morning Sunday, the picture had gone viral. There were reports of Carney’s sacking well before the club’s official press release at 6:27pm that night.
The Sharks acted swiftly. Too swiftly for the likes of Carney and his manager, who are appealing the process the club went through before terminating his contract.
The stunt has polarised the league community. While some have blasted Carney, others believe Robinson is the villain.
‘‘I’ve been copping it every day but I don’t care what people say about me, Todd’s the one who is hurting. He’s the one that’s lost the career out of it,’’ said Robinson, who claims the photo became public when he sent it to his brother, who lost his phone shortly afterwards.
‘‘At the end of the day, we both made a mistake. He shouldn’t have done it and I shouldn’t have taken the photo. It’s all been blown out of proportion. I spoke to him two days after it came out to clear the air. Todd was pretty pissed off, as you would be.’’
Those close to Carney say he is engaging and respectful but, when drinking, can morph into a different person. Current and former teammates have been quick to leap to his defence.
‘‘You can have a great conversation with him – he can mix with different groups, adults and children, and is great to be around,’’ said suspended Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan. ‘‘That’s why all the players are disappointed with what’s happened. He’s their friend and teammate and they’re disappointed because of that.’’
After being sacked by three NRL clubs, it appears the premature end to a promising career. The Dally M Medalist is unlikely to be granted a visa to play in the English Super League, while it remains to be seen whether European rugby clubs will punt on a 28 year with a history, but not one in the 15-man game.
"I can't be responsible for everything he's done," Robinson said. "He needs to take some ownership as well."