Todd Carney’s new haircut serves as a warning sign that the Cronulla playmaker’s mind is “not on the job.” Well that’s according to Fox Sports, with the esteemed sports broadcaster claiming just as much earlier this week.
In case you missed it, Todd Carney turned up at Brookvale Oval last weekend with a blond peroxide ‘do, which he had clipped down to a number one. The Fox Sports journalist drew weak parallels with Billy Idol, but Carney’s look was more reminiscent of late 90s pop sensation Sisqó, or a young Marshall Mathers III of the same era, if anything.
As it were, Carney had a terrible game in Cronulla’s loss to Manly, which led this particular Fox Sports writer to view Carney’s hair as a metaphor for Cronulla’s lack of spirit and intensity. “The hairdo was probably a fair insight into where Cronulla’s attitude is at,” he wrote.
Unless Carney is channeling his inner post-modern artist, in requesting a conceptual haircut that specifically portrays Cronulla’s general ennui, I’d guess that this is just yet another example of what rugby league players do when they are bored: fuck around with their hair.
Rugby league players enjoy an extended period downtime during the week that you and I do not. They occupy this time by getting into hot water on Twitter, accumulating tattoos, milling outside Bourke St Bakery, and, of course, dropping cash at their nearest Toni & Guy Hair Salon.
Therefore, despite what the writer suggests, Carney’s latest haircut is not indicative of a career malaise, nor a general discontent with the game of rugby league. Carney has probably just exhausted all available space on his body for more tattoos, and is now firmly focused on rocking new and interesting hairstyles during his downtime.
Look back through history – both ancient and modern – and you will see myriad examples of men fucking around with their hair just because they can. Whether it’s the luxurious locks of Alexander the Great in Ancient Greece, or the overly gelled aesthetic favoured by modern Greek-Australian NRL player Braith Anasta, the same rule applies.
This willingness to experiment is most prevalent in the sporting domain. In the early 2000s, for example, big, bad hair was de rigueur in all footballing codes. Willie Mason was one of the trailblazers in this respect, with his afro enabling him a cult following. Dreadlocked players – particularly in rugby union – soon followed. Then there was the ‘shaggy hair’ surfer look, popular among AFL mid-fielders to this day; the patented “rugby league haircut,” which involves short sides and a faux hawk with a little bit of party at the back… and the list goes on. It really does.
Andrew Johns, perhaps the greatest player in rugby league history, also had a penchant for dramatic hairstyles. Back in 1996, just as he was emerging as an Origin candidate, Johns was sporting a ridiculous bright red haircut that would not have looked out of place in a mid-90s rave.
Of course, Johns went on to become one of the greats, which goes to show that Carney’s haircut does not suggest a career malaise or a general footballing apathy.
Sure, there is some proof that short bleached hair indicates an unstable mind. Robbie Williams turned up to Glastonbury in 1995 (during the Brit Pop explosion) with bleached blonde hair and a blacked-out tooth – and was clearly high as fuck. But he went on to sell hundreds of millions of albums over the next 15 years or so.
And for his part, Johns surely did his fair share of zingers in and around that period too, one can presume after reading his revealing autobiography, The Two of Me. But he never let his changing hairstyles – including an interesting period in 2002 when he strangely chose to dye his hair jet-black – affect him on game day.
I understand that Carney’s look may seem shocking and severe when looked at in content. And to be fair, it’s a look that is more common on the streets of East London than at suburban Brookvale Oval. But to be fair, Carney has seen a style he likes – probably on a film-clip while working out at the gym – and gone for it.
But he must understand how subversive it must look – after all, that’s why he did it, to stand out. Indeed, it’s a look that rugby league reporters like Buzz Rothfield and Paul Kent have literally never seen the likes of.
But it is now incumbent upon Carney to live up to his haircut, much like how rugby league players who wore white boots in 2003 – i.e. Justin Hodges – knew they would cop flak for being “flashy” if they had an off day. He must show everyone that conformity in the NRL is passé – and that there is a place for alt culture amidst the beer-swilling rugby league mainstream.
I am genuinely excited for Todd Carney and his new alt haircut.
By Dave Edwards