Stats show Joey cuts it in either code

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by M-Time, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. M-Time

    M-Time Guest

    Change is avalanching upon our heads, and most people are grotesquely unprepared to cope with it. - Alvin Toffler, Future Shock.

    Andrew "Joey" Johns has been reading and thinking a lot lately, mainly about change.

    He's considered the implications of the ARL changing a rule which would effectively mean he would become the first Australian to miss a Test match to play a club game.

    He's been watching Tri Nations matches, wondering whether rugby union and rugby league are prepared for how closely they are coming together.

    The thought that he could have been in the Wallabies' No.10 jumper tonight has been swept into the avalanche of events in 2005.

    His season began with a listless, futile quest to help the Knights win a match, had a middle where he inspired NSW to Origin victory, and could end with him holding the code's highest individual honour - the Dally M.

    Johns's current match-day statistics are, on the NRL information superhighway, 20 exits beyond awesome.

    In the post-Origin period, the Knights have won five games from six, scoring 26 tries. Johns has scored one but has 16 try assists. The Knights have made 34 line breaks, of which Johns has three and 12 line-break assists.

    Based on this form, the Australian Rugby Union citing his perceived lack of durability as the reason it would not support a Waratahs push to have him switch codes is akin to focusing on Cindy Crawford's mole.

    Ask Johns if he could do the same job for the Wallabies tonight at Telstra Stadium in the Bledisloe Cup and he praises the incumbent five-eighth, Matt Giteau, and his injured predecessor, Stephen Larkham.

    "I'm really interested in seeing how Matt Giteau goes as No.10," he said of the son of former Western Suburbs and Roosters centre Ron Giteau. "He's a great talent."

    Of Larkham, who injured his shoulder against South Africa, he said: "I watch him all the time. Before he went over to South Africa, I thought he was in outstanding form. He did all the clever ball-playing things, showing them the ball, passing it inside and outside."

    Given the ARU's doubts, it's worth comparing Johns's durability with that of Larkham, an exercise made poignant because they were born in the same month of 1974.

    Johns has played 218 games from a maximum of 287 for Newcastle since he became a regular first-grader in 1994, a 76 per cent rate. Larkham has played 98 Super 12 games, including finals, plus an additional five games for the Brumbies, for a 75 per cent rate. Johns's State of Origin numbers are also impressive: 23 games from the 33 possible, for 70 per cent.

    However, Larkham has played 80 Tests in an era when the Wallabies play about 11 a year, for 73 per cent. Johns has played 18 Tests from the 35 possible, for 51 per cent.

    "Will that percentage go down even further this year?" he asks semi-seriously of ARL uncertainty whether to grant him a dispensation should he apply to miss an October 15 Test against New Zealand to play for English club Warrington in a grand final.

    With a sigh worthy of Hamlet, Johns comments: "Ahh, that's the big question." Anxious to sidestep the debate, he says: "I can see both sides. "They [The ARL] are wary of the consequences if they change it."

    Of his low percentage of Test matches, he points out that most of his injuries have been late in the season, just before the internationals are played. "In the late 1990s I had groin operations, then in 2002, 2003, 20004 I had back, neck and knee injuries," he explains. "Those injuries robbed me of a few games. It's disappointing."

    Still, in the Johns-Larkham era, Johns has played 80 more games and, other than a romp against Fiji, none has been against easybeats like Italy and Samoa. With arm and leg injuries preventing Larkham from playing much Super 12 this season and a reconstructed shoulder delaying his return until the Super 14 season and Johns recently re-signed until 2008, the doubts the ARU raised over his longevity are worth questioning.

    "I don't want to bag blokes," Johns says firmly. "I can understand their position. It would have been a risk if I went over [from league to union]."

    Johns prefers to direct praise to All Blacks five-eighth Daniel Carter.

    "I saw what he did to the Lions," he says. "He's phenomenal. A lot of rugby union's five-eighths don't ball-play.

    "It's usually the inside-centre who acts as a second flyhalf and does the ball-play.

    "But Daniel Carter doesn't mind flying into them and putting balls on. His passing is done at the right time. His kicking is done at the right time."

    Johns commented that if Carter converted to rugby league tomorrow, "he'd pick it up straight away".

    Johns begged off outlining how he would play the All Blacks and Carter, saying it was the one thing to which he had not devoted much thought recently.

    "The blueprint would be the way the Springboks moved them around," he said finally. "With Carter, I'd have to approach him the way you prepare for Darren Lockyer.

    "You'd make sure he does as much defence as possible and send the big blokes at him."

    NSW State of Origin coach Ricky Stuart, an international in both rugby codes, has no doubt Johns would execute whatever plan Wallabies coach Eddie Jones gave him.

    "Joey takes the tactics and pattern you adopt on the training field and mirrors them on the playing field," Stuart said.

    "He has the great knack of transferring it to the game. It's a sign of class. A coach doesn't have to waste time with the video or the whiteboard.

    "When a team is fatigued and under the pump, it gives a coach a great feeling of comfort to know he has someone out there who can slow it down, or quicken it up, play inside or outside, play it close or let the ball fly."

    It would seem that Andrew Johns still has enough juice to give the future of either of the rugby codes a shock.
     
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  3. sanzar

    sanzar Guest

    The man's a legend, no doubt about it! I would have loved to have seen him in a Waratahs Jersey this year... and he certainly would have been pretty bloody good at flyhalf for the wallabies!
     
  4. johns wud teach wilkinson a lesson or two

    too late now carter has done that..

    mmmmmm

    carter vs joey johns!
     
  5. Ripper

    Ripper Guest

    I'd like to See a Carter/McAlister to take on Johns/Lockyer one day...
     
  6. M-Time

    M-Time Guest

    Has Joey actually put pen to paper on the Newcastle deal yet Sanzar?
     
  7. sanzar

    sanzar Guest

    From what I understand he did it a couple weeks ago... They let him go to Warrington on the priviso that he signed with Newcastle untill 2008.
     
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