FORMER Port Macquarie Shark Shaun Carney was in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a surfing holiday when he got the call-up every young player dreams about.
His manager rang to tell Carney he had been given the chance to play in the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans, but the youngster had no idea until he flew back into Australia.
An email from his mother asked him to get in touch with his manager, but he didn’t think it was genuine, at first. “I didn’t know if she was playing games with me,” he said.
When he found out it was, Carney was thrilled. “I’m stoked,” he said.
“It’s an excellent opportunity [Titans coach John] Cartwright has given me.”
Carney will have to make the most of that opportunity with three trial matches before the season gets underway. It will be his chance to impress Cartwright and possibly secure a place in the first-grade team.
“He’ll keep an eye on me,” Carney said.
It’s the latest achievement in four great years for Carney, since he became involved with the Titans as a junior in 2008. He was a regular in the Toyota Cup last year.
“I played 20-odd games,” he said.
He was a five-eighth at the Port Sharks, but Carney has since moved to fullback, and said he’d never looked back.
"It’s my favourite [position] now,” he said.
Carney’s already had one of the first-grade regulars take him under his wing. He was on the same flight as Greg Bird during a trip home from Newcastle.
“He recognised my Titans shorts, and asked me which team I was playing for,” Carney said.
Bird ended up giving Carney a lift home from the airport.
“He’s a great bloke,” Carney said. “He’s been around awhile, and played at the highest level.”
It’s a level Carney could find himself at sooner, rather than later. He has 16 weeks of hard training ahead of the season getting underway.
Yesterday was only day two, but Carney said he “wasn’t feeling too bad” after it.