Bennett backs Carney’s NRL return
TODD Carney has found an ally in Wayne Bennett, with the Broncos supercoach backing the bad boy's bid to return to the NRL.
Carney conceded he was not physically ready for an NRL return and was yet to officially secure a deal to resurrect his career with the North Queensland Cowboys.
However, the 2010 Dally M Medal champion is adamant he can still be a force in the NRL and has set his sights on returning this season.
Carney, 31, must prove to the NRL he is worthy of a fourth chance after being sacked by the Raiders, Roosters and Sharks for off-field indiscretions.
His last game in the NRL was in June 2014 but Carney said he was not washed up as he prepares to make his playing return with the Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup.
"It's not about whether I deserve it or not, I'm just putting my best foot forward," he said.
"I've been away for four years now. I'm back in Australia trying to get an NRL contract and this is where it starts, at the Pride.
"If I was to say I was physically ready for the NRL, I'd be lying. We train three afternoons a week here. We do get a fair bit of running under our belts and we do the weights but it's not five, six days a week.
"Am I capable of it? Yes. And do I feel like I'm good enough to play in the NRL still? I'd say yes, because that's what I truly believe and I wouldn't be here sitting in front of you if I didn't truly believe I could play in the NRL again."
The NRL will assess Carney's case once the Cowboys lodge a one-year contract.
He was last booted out of the game after being photographed urinating in his mouth, while driving offences resulted in him being axed by the Raiders in 2008.
The NRL's decision to register controversial Broncos forward Matt Lodge has been met with mixed responses and could impact on Carney's application.
Broncos coach Bennett said Carney deserved another go if he had reformed and satisfied the league.
"The game does a remarkable job in many ways that it never gets the credit for," Bennett said.
"If the game thinks Todd's ready to come back, then I'm happy for Todd to come back.
"These aren't life sentences. These guys get rubbed out for a period of time then they get the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves then come back.
"If he's done all that and meets the criteria the game wants, then I'm happy for him to play.
"He's a wonderful player and we all love watching him play football."
Carney underwent physical testing by the Cowboys recently and has held discussions with coach Paul Green.
And he said playing with Johnathan Thurston in his farewell season was enticing.
"To get back in the NRL would be a dream come true," he said.
"To play with JT would definitely be another big bonus."