The recent saga involving Raiders star Todd Carney initially left many baying for blood, but after the dust has settled – was Todd really a villain or was he simply a victim of his youth, stardom and circle of friends and sponsors? â€“ Its hard not to think the kid has been subject to some very bad advice along the way.But there are those who will argue that his response to the recent ultimatum simply confirms that he is beyond hope when it comes to accepting the extent of his inability to handle strong drink, or deal with its consequences.
It may be a combination of both but you have to think that he has been very badly advised in refusing to accept what were stringent, but in the circumstances not unreasonable or unexpected, conditions.
His Manager, or others around him, seems to have believed the Canberra Raiders were bluffing â€“ especially on the conditions that he stands down for the rest of this year, and get off the drink.
That latter condition is largely unenforceable as we saw when the Parramatta Eels imposed it on Tim Smith!
The NRL â€“ clearly responding to concern about its â€œstanceâ€ if you could call it that on Sonny Bill Williams â€“ decided to take a tough line and deregister Carney for 2009 as well.
If he challenges that decision in the courts watch for an interesting case. The fact he has been denied the opportunity to state his case before having his career severely disrupted, not to mention what it does to his bank account, might not sit easy with courts that increasingly require that even the worst offender get a full and fair hearing!
But you have to ask yourself â€“ how did Carney possibly get in this situation?
In my view all roads point to his Manager, who, within hours of the ultimatum being delivered cast doubt over it.
The Manager, and even the player, seems to have totally misread the mood of the Canberra Board and Management â€“ and possibly even the clubâ€™s player leadership group.
The Raiders are a club with a rich heritage. I can well recall travelling to Queanbeyan with Queensland teams in the 1970â€™s and being singularly impressed by the management style, and commitment to the game, of the McIntyreâ€™s and the Furnerâ€™s who ran the then Queanbeyan based club autocratically then â€“ and the descendants of whom still run what is now the Canberra Raiders today.
Anyone who knows the history of the club would not have been at all surprised that once the Raiders laid down their conditions, they would not budge from them one iota.
Perhaps the considerable tolerance the club admittedly extended to Todd Carney over the last 18 months or so blinded his Manager to what would happen if they did not accept the clubâ€™s conditions?
But someone should have told Todd Carney the Raiders were deadly serious. And they were deadly serious from the moment they made public five very clear conditions.
If his Manager had really thought the whole issue through he should have realised there was no way the Raiders could possibly back down. Full stop!
And the demands from left right and centre that the NRL take a tough line over Sonny Bill Williams
should have sounded warning bells as well!
The Raiders are deserving of all the praise being heaped on them for their on field achievements. The fact they continue to do so despite the Carney saga points to a club that has its act together off the field as well.
And there are one or two clubs who would do well to follow the Raiders example.