The Great Britain winger, Brian Carney, has stunned the Gold Coast Titans by announcing his immediate retirement without playing a game for them.
The Irishman was the club's major signing for their first season in Australia's National Rugby League, but told them 12 hours after his first training session that he was retiring.
Carney, 30, now plans to return to Britain to be with his family and complete a Masters degree in commercial law. He has forestalled speculation that he might play elsewhere by asking the Titans to withhold the release from his contract.
"I have made this decision with a heavy heart, but I dearly want to get home to my family and I couldn't act like a fraud by taking the club's money when I knew I couldn't see the year out," he told the club's website.
The Titans' chief executive, Michael Searle, said he was shocked by the news. "You could have picked me up off the floor, but he deserves credit for having the integrity and honesty to make this decision now."
Carney has refused to take two months' wages to which he is entitled and has offered to repay the club for expenses incurred in sorting out visa problems that delayed his arrival until this week. His retirement deprives the game of one of its more unusual and charismatic characters.
The former Gaelic footballer was first spotted playing league for the Irish Students side and signed for Gateshead. From there, he played a season for Hull and five for Wigan, before signing for the Titans and agreeing to play the intervening season with the Newcastle Knights. With them he was voted the best winger in the NRL last season, despite rumours of homesickness.
As an Irishman, Carney qualified to play for the Great Britain side, which he did on 14 occasions, and was vice-captain in the past two Tri-Nations tournaments.
Huddersfield still intend to bring back Ryan Hudson into action in the friendly against Wigan on Sunday after his two-year drug ban, despite his arrest in Portugal. Hudson was charged with damaging three cars and assaulting a policeman, although the charges were dropped when Giants officials paid compensation.
That still leaves the question of what Hudson was doing at the pre-season training camp in Vilamoura. Under the terms of his suspension for taking a banned steroid, he is not allowed to play or train with the club until midnight on Saturday.
The Rugby League says it is "seeking clarification as to his movements".Reuse content