Todd Carney is confident he will be able to win over his critics during his three-year spell in First Utility Super League.
Catalans Dragons threw the controversial Australian stand-off a lifeline following his sacking by Cronulla Sharks in June and agreed to strict conditions before they were able to unveil him at a press conference in Perpignan on Monday.
The 28-year-old former international player of the year’s proposed move to Huddersfield Giants in 2008 collapsed when he was refused a visa and Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington tried to block his latest move, arguing that his presence in Super League would damage the integrity of the competition.
The Catalans were finally given the go-ahead by the Rugby Football League to complete the signing after lodging a £50,000 bond which they will forfeit if the player breaks the rules or is found guilty of a criminal act during his time in the south of France.
Carney, who had also been previously sacked by Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters for breaches of discipline, was asked about Hetherington’s comments during his press conference at Stade Gilbert Brutus.
“I think everyone has an opinion and rightly so,” he said.
“For me, I have set myself goals and my goal is to perform here for the Catalans Dragons but also make the English Super League a lot stronger competition.
“Hopefully by the way I play and the way I perform by the end of this year, or by the time my career at the Catalans finishes, he will have changed his opinion.”
Carney revealed one of the reasons behind his move to the south of France was to get the opportunity to kick-start his career away from the English and Australian media.
“The Australian media has been pretty cruel,” he said. “I’ll always put my hand up and I’ve obviously done the wrong things.
“I may not have deserved the punishment that I got but I’m not looking back. That is all past me now.
“I’ve had four months to set a goal to myself and to start a new adventure and I’ve never had that opportunity before. The goals I’ve set myself are pretty high and I’m confident that the Catalans can help me achieve those goals.”
Carney, who appeared at the press conference alongside fellow newcomer Willie Tonga after taking part in his first training session in Perpignan, will be the most high-profile addition to Super League next season, which will be the Catalans’ 10th in the top flight.
He follows in the footsteps of rugby league greats Stacey Jones and Steve Menzies, who were major overseas attractions in Perpignan, and he revealed he spoke to former players Casey McGuire and Dallas Johnson as well as ex-Catalans head coach Trent Robinson, now back with Sydney Roosters, before making his decision.
“I enjoy watching the Super League,” Carney said. “I didn’t know a great deal about the place beforehand but I spoke to a few people, in particular Trent Robinson.
“Even though he is coaching the Sydney Roosters right now, for him to say that he would love to come back and coach here again some day was one of the reasons I signed.
“I told him the clubs I was speaking to and he suggested I come here and I took his word for it. I’m away from both the Australian and English media and with the 10th season coming up, that is appealing to me.
“They haven’t won a trophy since they started so that’s going to drive me and I’m sure drive the whole playing group to achieve that in this 10th year.”
Carney, who is staying with fellow Australian and one-time Cronulla team-mate Ben Pomeroy until he finds a place of his own, also gained an insight into Super League from former Canberra team-mates Joel and Michael Monaghan ahead of his move.
Michael Monaghan has joined the Catalans as assistant coach after retiring from Warrington Wolves at the end of the 2014 season.
Carney added: “Two nights before I left Australia, I had dinner with Joel and I know Michael Monaghan from my time at the Raiders and for him to be a coach here, that also excites me.
“He’s done everything in the game and I’m excited to work with him, to build my game as a half and to improve from what he knows.”
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