NRL boss David Smith has made a hasty exit and left Cronulla star Todd Carney to be grilled about looming outcomes from the supplements saga gripping the Sharks.
Carney was one of four marquee players who joined Smith to launch the NRL Auckland Nines at Rugby League Central in Sydney on Thursday but was instead left fielding questions about the controversy which has hung over his club for the past 11 months.
The ARL Commissioners were briefed on the progress of the Integrity Unit’s investigation into Cronulla’s 2011 supplements program during a 10-hour meeting on Wednesday, but ultimately decisions on any penalties rest in the hands of Smith and the NRL’s chief operating officer Jim Doyle.
While Smith departed on Thursday without facing the media amid speculation the league will reveal the Sharks’ fate on Friday, Carney was probed for about 15 minutes.
The former Dally M Medallist insisted he was as much in the dark as everyone else and said he and teammates had been asked to carry on as normal with pre-season training.
“(We’ve been told) to continue what we’ve been doing for the last five weeks and that’s turn up and train as hard as we can and do the best we can for our club,” Carney said.
“I’ve probably been told as much as you all have. I don’t read the papers. People ring me and ask what’s going on and I say I don’t know.
“That’s the same now. I don’t know.”
The NRL’s investigation is separate from the anti-doping probe still being conducted by ASADA and it is believed to centre on alleged governance failures at the club.
There has been speculation the Sharks could be handed a massive fine and lose coach Shane Flanagan to a 12-month suspension similar to that handed by the AFL to Essendon coach James Hird.
“If he was to be stood down, I’d be disappointed and it would hurt our club,” Carney said.
“But until that happens, it’s all as usual and he’s addressed us as coach that his focus is to make us a better side in 2014 and I’ve got all confidence that Shane will do that.”
Carney was diplomatic when asked about Smith’s hasty exit that left him in the spotlight.
“He’s the boss of our game and I’m sure he’ll have an answer when it comes out,” Carney said.
“I don’t think anyone has an answer. I’m sure when there is an answer, we’ll be told.”