While he may cut a controversial figure; former NRL star and 2010 Dally M winner Todd Carney has been in the headlines recently – but all for a good reason.
Having played at various clubs across the NRL, Super League and Intrust Super Cup, he is now involved with the game at the grassroots level in Brisbane, as the junior development coach at Souths Sunnybank Magpies RLFC.
The Magpies, who are famous for helping develop Kangaroos, Maroons and North Queensland Cowboy legend Johnathon Thurston as a junior, have appointed the 33-year-old Carney to the role for the 2019 season.
He will draw on his own life lessons as he fronts for his new role teaching youngsters in a series of coaching clinics at the club.
After a storied career in the NRL, Carney is this year playing at the Byron Bay Devils, inking a deal that will see him captain coach the club for the next three years.
After a chance meeting with Sunnybank president Josh George at a cinema in Brisbane, Carney was offered the role to engage with the younger generation of Magpies, lending his invaluable experience to a club steeped in history.
“My main focus is giving back to the grassroots level from my experience at the top level and hopefully pass on some of my skills and advice to the next generation of both boys and girls,” he said.
Carney’s coaching clinics are one of a few initiatives in the pipeline for the Canberra junior, as he plans to also move into the world of training and development rugby league camps; focusing on disadvantaged youth.
“It’s not all about ‘Todd Carney’,” he said.
“It’s about helping out the youngsters and especially the kids who are disadvantaged.
“Although I’m not proud of my past, I am extremely remorseful and have put it all behind me to concentrate on the next chapter in my career.”
Magpies president George said he was thinking of the positives and his club was happy to have Carney’s with sheer enthusiasm on board.
Although some parents may have questioned the appointment, given the former NRL star’s much documented off-field indiscretions; George said the club were thinking about the kids of the club and what Carney could bring to them by being involved with the Magpies.
“We are delighted to have someone of Todd’s calibre and experience here at Sunnybank,” George said.
“Todd’s input not only for our players, but also our coaches, will prove to be invaluable for the Magpies.”
With aspirations to one day play in the NRL again, Carney appears to have turned the corner in his life and now speaks from the heart regarding what’s on his horizons.
With an autobiography on his life due out later this year and a number of public speaking engagements planned to accompany its release; it’s got to be said the gifted halfback is doing his best to leave past behind and build a brighter future.
“I’m hopeful to get my brand out there and want to have a big season with Byron Bay as I haven’t closed the door on a return to the NRL just yet,” he said.
“If the opportunity came up that an NRL club was interested in signing me again, I’d be a fool to say no and would jump at the chance.”
But right now though, the focus for Carney is to emulate his feats on the rugby league field and transfer them into his new role with the current clinics on offer.
While the spotlight can sometimes be cruel, the game of rugby league is a forgiving one and many people will be wishing Carney well as he endeavours to learn from his past and teach others who have a bright future.