NRL chief Todd Greenberg will conduct a face-to-face meeting with exiled star Todd Carney to determine whether he is fit to return to the game after a North Queensland Cowboys playing contract officially landed on his desk.
Greenberg confirmed that a formal request for Carney's readmission has been lodged with the governing body on Monday, with the 31-year-old ex-Origin half now needing to prove he has reformed the off-field ways that saw him sacked from Canberra, the Roosters and Cronulla for alcohol-related incidents.
With the Cowboys understood to have a one-year deal for Carney up for consideration, respected former coach and Fairfax Media columnist Roy Masters wrote that any application for the five-eighth's return could be denied because he has not completed a club-sponsored rehabilitation program as the likes of Matt Lodge, Blake Ferguson and Russell Packer have done.
But Greenberg played down the suggestion that Carney would have to spend another season on the sidelines, four years on from his Sharks dismissal over the infamous 'bubbler' incident.
''We'll treat it [the application] on its merits,'' Greenberg said, with the NRL CEO to personally meet Carney in coming weeks.
''We'll go through the process like we have with lots of other players who've come back to the game. But it's a process we're going to have to satisfy ourselves.
''I've always said, we have never said no to Todd Carney.
''As part of the process, we always have a face-to-face meeting with the player and we'll need to satisfy ourselves of two things.
''One, that he's done the work to get to this point in time; and two, what that work looks like in the future to ensure that there's no repeat.''
Greenberg stressed that the NRL would not be rushed on the decision as Carney plies his trade with Northern Pride in the InTrust Super Cup.
Carney, whose first game on Australian soil since 2014 ended in a loss on Saturday, has publicly declared he will accept any behaviour conditions the NRL wishes to impose for him to return.
NSW Origin skipper Boyd Cordner remains in contact with his former clubmate ''nearly every day'', and backed his old housemate to make the most of any lifeline offered to return to the game.
''It's been four years now for Todd and I think he's done his time now and deserves another shot for sure,'' Cordner said.
''Being close with Todd, I know how much it's been killing him. All he's ever wanted to do since he's been kicked out is play NRL.
''Just to see him now and how much he wants it and bad he wants it, I'm sure he'll do anything that's put in front of him to get another shot back in the NRL.''
While Cowboys coach Paul Green has confirmed his interest in Carney, where he would fit into the club's strong playmaking stocks remains a valid question given the presence of international halves Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Te Maire Martin.
Despite a four-year absence that included Super League stints at Salford and Catalans where Carney failed to recapture his Dally M Medal winning form of 2010, Cordner believes he would still have plenty to offer at NRL level.
''I can't wait to see him back in the NRL. He's only 31 so for a half that's still pretty young,'' Cordner said.
''It might take him a little while to get going again because he's been out of the NRL for so long. But knowing Todd and the way he trains, the way he applies himself to ruby league, I'm sure that he'll be a good asset to the Cowboys.''