Carney out to repay Stuart's Origin faith
NSW five-eighth Todd Carney says he is desperate to repay the faith shown in him by coach Ricky Stuart after leaving him and the Blues in the lurch during his turbulent 2011 campaign.
After a less-than-spectacular State of Origin debut in Melbourne, Carney came up with the game-breaking play in NSW's series-levelling win in Sydney earlier this month.
He shapes as a pivotal figure in Stuart's plans to snatch a series win in Brisbane next week, just as he did 18 months ago when summoned by Stuart to an Origin planning meeting.
Also present at that meeting in a Cronulla hotel room in January 2011 were Mitchell Pearce, Greg Bird, Luke Lewis, Jarryd Hayne, skipper Paul Gallen and Kurt Gidley - Stuart having earmarked those players as the core group with which he hoped to end Queensland's dominance.
Carney was the only member of the party who had yet to play Origin, but coming off a stellar 2010 in which he secured the Dally M medal in leading the Sydney Roosters to a grand final as well as a first Test jumper - he seemed certain to grab hold of the NSW five-eighth spot.
But when his career went off the rails, so too did the plans of Stuart.
And Carney hasn't forgotten.
"It was disappointing how 2011 went, and I didn't come into his plans with what went on," Carney told AAP.
"Obviously I do owe him a lot and now I've got that opportunity I'll do that.
"Everyone owes Ricky a lot for the faith he's shown.
"He really helped me through camp ahead of game two and I'm sure he'll have his own tips for game three."
Carney's strong effort to rebound from his game-one shocker has him confident of making an even bigger impact in the series decider.
In game one, he had just four runs for 26 metres before producing 10 runs for 142 metres in the rematch - including one scintillating burst which set up Brett Stewart's crucial second-half four-pointer.
"There were a few little parts in the game but definitely that was a big moment for me, to get through the line," Carney said.
"That definitely gave me a little boost in confidence.
"It's a completely different attitude (from Melbourne). Obviously the first one was really intense and I didn't know what to expect.
"Game two, I changed that and I felt that worked ... that's the same approach I'm going to have now."
The Blues were given a day off on Wednesday, but Thursday shapes as a crucial training day with Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart (both knee) set to test their injuries.
A decision on Stewart's availability could even be made on Thursday if it is deemed his return from a medial strain is too far behind the required timetable to have him right for next week's match.