Winger determined to roar for Tigers in 2014
Justin Carney insists he has no plans to alter his style as he tells Sky Sports about life at Cas and his hopes going into the new season...
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 22/01/14 4:20pm
Justin Carney: In action for Castleford during Magic Weekend in Manchester last year
Having crossed the line in both senses, it's fair to say Castleford's Justin Carney made an impact during his debut season in Super League last year.
In 2013 the winger managed 21 tries, a fine tally considering the Tigers spent the vast majority of the year languishing near the foot of the table. None of his team-mates managed more than 11, showing Carney's value to the team.
"You are going out there for war, really. There's no use going out there half-heatedly - I'm never going to do that."
What makes his scoring exploits even more impressive is he played in just 19 games, his campaign being interrupted on three occasions by suspension. While he appeared high up on the try-scoring charts, the 25-year-old was all-too often on the Rugby Football League's disciplinary committee's naughty list.
There were two occasions of him being found guilty of a dangerous throw, while he missed a pair of games early on after throwing punches during a mass brawl in his side's 52-0 loss away at Hull FC.
The key for Carney this year is to keep himself on the pitch, though that doesn't mean he has any intention of changing his style of play. In fact, when asked at his club's media day if his current coach, Daryl Powell, has had a word with him about his discipline, Carney's response was just the same as his playing style - quick and direct.
"He (Powell) doesn't need to," he told Sky Sports. "I'm not a kid - I know exactly what my downfalls are. It's something I've got to fix up.
"But it comes with the game, with my style. I'll try my best not to do it again, but I'm not saying I won't, I'm not saying I will. I'm not going to stop doing something for those reasons. I'm going to go in wholeheartedly.
"You are going out there for war, really. There's no use going out there halfheartedly - I'm never going to do that."
When his signing was originally announced in August of 2012, then Tigers boss Ian Millward stated that Carney would thrill his new fans with "his robust running and dynamic style." He wasn't wrong.
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Yet it wasn't plain sailing throughout. Not helped by watching several games from the stands, the former Sydney Rooster made a slow start to his career with Castleford. By the end of the year, however, he was in such blistering form that he must have wished the regular season would never end. In the final 10 fixtures the New South Welshman notched no fewer than 16 tries.
Some of those will no doubt have come about from Rangi Chase assists, though the mercurial half-back has now moved on to pastures new for 2014.
Carney admits he will miss both the player and the person, yet is confident the plethora of new recruits can not only help fill the void but also add depth to a squad he believes can challenge at the top end of the table.
"I'll miss him as a bloke," he said of Chase, who is now part of the Marwan Koukash revolution at the newly-named Red Devils. "I really worked well with him out on the paddock. It's going to be very different. Good luck to him, he's gone to Salford and is doing what is best for him.
"We can't concentrate on that anymore. We've got good players like 'Finny' (Liam Finn), 'Dorny' (Luke Dorn) and 'Sneydy' (Marc Sneyd). We've got a lot of depth in the halves now.
"I don't think anyone can be another Rangi Chase because he's very unique. But they can do a job for us because they are good players."
With Chase gone, Powell has used the salary cap space to strengthen the options at his disposal, meaning even someone as prolific as Carney knows he cannot rest on his laurels.
"I really think that if we keep everyone in the squad on board and the squad stays fit, I can't see why we are not in the top four."
"My position isn't concrete, but that's what you've got to have. We have been at the bottom of the barrel, but the ball is now in our court," he continued.
"That's what you've got to have. You have got to have depth and you have got to have competition, otherwise people become complacent.
"I think we are all competing for spots here. It doesn't matter about squad numbers or anything like that - you put your best foot forward in training and you'll eventually get a run. That's a culture that Daryl has brought here.
"I really think that if we keep everyone in the squad on board and the squad stays fit, I can't see why we are not in the top four.
"We are training really well, we've just got to have that winning attitude that the big teams have.
"We've got to earn respect as a club and at the moment we're down the bottom. We've got to make it that no one wants to play Cas."
No opposition will certainly be overjoyed at the prospect of going up against Carney, a wrecking ball of a back who has settled well in West Yorkshire.
Now into the last year of his current deal, he's not even contemplating his long-term future ("that's what I have an agent for"), instead focusing on what he feels is a "big year" for the Tigers. Super League, you have been warned.