Todd Carney just can’t help himself.
Ever since he suggested to Elliott Whitehead he move to Canberra, the former NRL bad boy likes to remind the Englishman of the advice.
“He keeps telling me ‘I told you so’,” said Whitehead ahead of Saturday’s semi-final against Penrith.
Carney, who was dumped by the Raiders in 2008 following a series off-field incidents, played with the athletic backrower with the Catalans Dragons in the English Super League.
He told Whitehead that the Raiders and coach Ricky Stuart would perfectly suit him, as did the Raiders’ star hooker and fellow Englishman Josh Hodgson.
“I speak to Todd quite often,” Whitehead said.
“It’s pretty hard with different timezones and that but when I get a chance we’ll Whatsapp each other and stuff.”
Whitehead has been immense in his debut season for the Green Machine.
He’s played the most minutes of any player in the NRL – a total of 2019, missing just two minutes over 25 games.
The workload has taken some toll on his body, but not enough to stop the 102kg from inflicting damage.
“I feel good and I’ve really enjoyed my first season here,” he said.
That joy, though, disappeared for a short while last Saturday night.
Whitehead drew a penalty for a swinging arm across the face of Cronulla fullback Ben Barba late in the qualifying final at GIO Stadium.
James Maloney slotted the resulting penalty goal for a 16-14 lead and eventual win; forcing the Raiders to play Penrith this Saturday in a sudden death semi-final.
“I felt sick,” Whitehead admitted.
“I was very disappointed when I heard the whistle because I knew all the boys had done all the hard work. To give that away just five minutes from time it was pretty disappointing.
“At least we’ve got another chance this week and hopefully we get the result this week.”
Whitehead received plenty supportive messages from teammates post-match, which helped him get over the guilt.
“It was nice of them to text me and reassure me, but I still felt a bit bad,” he said.
“I’ll just have to keep my head up and help the team this week.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve got a point to prove – I’ve worked hard every week for the boys and feel like I’ve been doing my job pretty well the last couple of weeks.
“Hopefully I can just keep that form and take it into this weekend.”