Carney stays with Sharks

Todd Carney has rejected almost $1 million by deciding to remain a Shark for the rest of his career.

The incumbent NSW five-eighth has agreed to a five-year deal that will keep him at Cronulla until the end of the 2018 season. Carney, who turns 27 next month, closely considered lucrative offers from Penrith and New Zealand Warriors with deals of about $5 million for five years. He informed the Panthers of his decision to remain at the Sharks on Thursday afternoon.

Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan said Carney’s decision was a welcome relief. ”I’ve had time to think about it and had a few sleepless nights,” Flanagan said. ”The alternative wasn’t real good. If Todd wasn’t here, where do we go next? There’s a bit of a gap I feel at the moment between the elite players.”

Carney is now expected to earn more per season than he has during his first two seasons at the Sharks. He joined the club at the start of last year on a deal worth about $700,000 over two years, in an incentive-based contract. The Panthers remain on the lookout for a partner to incoming Jamie Soward after missing out on Carney and Johnathan Thurston.

”Whatever they earn, good luck to them,” Flanagan said. ”They’ve got a responsibility when they earn the big money to play well and do the right thing by the club 24 hours a day. Todd is really looking forward to that as well.

”We are going through this [Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority] investigation at the moment and it’s tough times for the club. But this club is going to be here and as long as we are around it’s bigger than one person. I know the club is working really hard off the field. We have hit a little bit of a hurdle but it will make us stronger.

”We’ll add some quality players over the next couple of months. We haven’t written this year off. The future is bright.”

Carney has played 142 NRL games since making his debut for Canberra in 2004 before leading the Roosters to a 2010 grand final loss to St George Illawarra. He said he was glad the decision was made. “I’m happy to have made the decision to be staying at the Sharks and to be settled for the next five years,” he said. ”We have a strong playing group here and I’m excited to have the chance of working with them.”

His manager David Riolo said the Panthers and the Warriors had both displayed ”professionalism in their approach” to negotiations over Carney.

”I think he’s very happy in his environment, the people he’s playing with,” Riolo said. ”He thought long and hard about it, and had some exciting offers elsewhere. But in the end, he just didn’t want to make the change.”

Meanwhile, Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter said he has never experienced such a severe injury toll to key players in his four-decade football career. Potter will be missing no fewer than seven top grade players when his side play the Carney-led Sharks.

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