Newcastle Rugby League: Cessnock Goannas captain-coach Al Lantry backs controversial signing Paul Carter to focus in 2018

SIGNING: Cessnock Goannas recruit Paul Carter in action for the Sydney Roosters in March. He will play Newcastle Rugby League in 2018 after being sentenced in court next month for cocaine supply. Picture: AAP
SIGNING: Cessnock Goannas recruit Paul Carter in action for the Sydney Roosters in March. He will play Newcastle Rugby League in 2018 after being sentenced in court next month for cocaine supply. Picture: AAP

Paul Carter has been sacked by three NRL clubs and faces sentencing in court for supplying cocaine next month, but incoming Cessnock captain-coach Al Lantry said he wasn’t concerned about the controversial off-field baggage of his new recruit. 

The Goannas announced the 2018 signing of 25-year-old Carter on Tuesday and Lantry said the versatile utility, who played three games for the Sydney Roosters this season, was focused on returning to football via the Newcastle Rugby League.

“No, not really [concerned],” Lantry said.

“I’ve spoken to him and he’s all focused on the right areas. And I’m not focused on anything off field either.

“He’s just looking to get back and keep everything on the field and play good footy for the Goeys.”

Lantry said another crack at the NRL wouldn’t be out of the question for Carter, the son of former Penrith playmaker Steve, following stints at the Gold Coast, South Sydney and Roosters from 2014.

“He hasn’t mentioned anything to me about it, but surely it [NRL] would still be on his mind,” Lantry said.

“He still can play there, he’s 25. But all he wants to talk about is Cessnock.”

Lantry said Carter was due to join the Goannas after Christmas and would look to relocate to Newcastle.  

His former Roosters teammates Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Connor Watson and Aidan Guerra will all play together at the Knights next season.

Lantry was quite pleased to secure Carter’s services especially considering there was no prior connection with the club, which has missed semi-finals the last two campaigns.

“It’s pretty exciting to get him,” Lantry said.

“Just his presence on the field from the get-go will be outstanding. His knowledge of the game. The people he’s played with and against. He’s picked the brain of so many people. His control on the field will be good for us too.”

In recent weeks social media had been the link between Cessnock and Carter. 

“It all come about on social media,” Lantry said.

“A bloke helping me out with a bit of player recruitment started talking to Paul on social media.

“I ended up getting his number and we spoke over a few days. Then we got it [the contract] put together pretty quick.”

The Goannas have lost forward Marvin Filipo and halfback Jordan Worboys for 2018, but collected Macquarie winger Royce Geoffrey. They have re-signed last year’s skipper Kori Barber, Reed Hugo and Joe Woodbury.

Lantry expected to announce three more recruits by the end of this week, but wouldn’t reveal what position he expected to play Carter, who has slotted in at lock, second-row and hooker.          

“We’ve spoken about a few positions, but we don’t want to give away too much early,” Lantry said.

“There’s two spots up for grabs he wants to play.”

Carter is due to appear in court on November 29

Elsewhere and Cessnock’s Coalfields’ rivals Kurri Kurri have picked up Maitland rugby union back Jono Maloney as well as playmaker Jade Porter from Wests.

EARLIER – TUESDAY, 12PM:

The Cessnock Goannas have announced the signing of controversial former NRL player Paul Carter for the 2018 Newcastle Rugby League season.

Carter, 25, was sacked by the Sydney Roosters this season and pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine at a Sydney nightclub to teammate Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who later joined the Newcastle Knights.

Carter was accused of supplying a small quantity of the drug to Kenny-Dowall at the Ivy nightclub in the early hours of May 5.

He previously pleaded not guilty to one charge of supplying a prohibited drug, but changed his plea to guilty. The matter was adjourned last month for sentence on November 29.

Kenny-Dowall was spared a conviction after he pleaded guilty to possessing .29 of a gram of cocaine at the nightclub.

Carter, the son of former Penrith playmaker Steve Carter, had previously been sacked by NRL clubs Gold Coast and South Sydney for disciplinary reasons and breach of the club’s code of conduct respectively. He has played lock, second-row and hooker.

Al Lantry has returned to Cessnock and will coach them in 2018 after the club parted ways with Steve Kidd.