Cowboys confident Carney deal is close
THE Cowboys are confident a resolution to Todd Carney's contract saga can be reached following some "robust discussions" with NRL CEO Todd Greenberg in Townsville this week.
The club has been trying to register a one-year deal for Carney since the opening round after being impressed by his commitment playing for Cairns-based feeder club the Northern Pride.
Carney has been in regular contact with the NRL integrity unit to plead his case and the face-to-face discussions with Greenberg in Townsville are a significant step towards his playing return.
The 31-year-old had still yet to learn his fate yesterday, but Cowboys coached Paul Green described the meetings as positive and said he had faith the NRL would make the right decision.
"I'm reasonably confident, but it's not a simple process for obvious reasons," Green said.
"We've just got to trust the process and all the discussions so far have been healthy, they've been pretty robust, so we'll see where it goes.
"It's a big decision for all parties involved. We've just got to make sure that we understand all parts before we go into it, but we wouldn't have headed down this track if we weren't committed.
"We're happy with where it's at."
Carney has been training with the Cowboys since last week and played arguably his best game in a Pride jersey at the weekend as he set up a try and kicked to 40/20s in their 14-4 loss to Easts.
The Cowboys would ideally like to have Carney's deal finalised in time to be halves cover for Michael Morgan during the State of Origin series starting in June, but Green said having him at training was a positive start.
"He's getting the idea of how we do things around here and what we want to do. He's playing for the Pride and playing pretty well there so that's all heading in the right direction," Green said.
While Carney's future is still undecided, the Cowboys have locked up promising half Jake Clifford with a contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2020.
Clifford, 20, was named NYC Player of the Year last season and the crafty halfback has made a strong step up to Queensland Cup level playing alongside Carney at the Pride.
"We all saw what he did in the NYC last year and he's stepped up to play against men this year and led the Pride team around," Green said.
"We look forward to him being at the club for a while."
Proserpine Whitsunday Brahmans junior Shane Wright has also signed an extension until 2020 with the Cowboys after the talented centre made his NRL debut in Round 24 last season.