Johns inspires Blues to Origin win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johns inspires Blues to Origin win

By Laine Clark 15/06/2005 10:53:48 PM Comments (0)

He didn't want to be called NSW's messiah, but halfback Andrew Johns will no longer have a choice after staging one of State of Origin's great comebacks.

The stage was set for a fairytale return from injury for Johns in only his second rugby league game in eight weeks and first Origin clash since 2003 in front of a sellout, 82,389-strong Telstra Stadium crowd - and boy did he deliver.

After receiving a shock call-up for injured halfback Trent Barrett last week, Johns defied his critics and a gallant Queensland to seal a 32-22 Origin II victory that ensured the Maroons remained winless from 10 attempts at the Olympic venue.

Johns' heroics set up the 25th anniversary series for a July 6 decider in Brisbane, keeping alive NSW's hopes of becoming only the second Blues team in Origin history to win a series from 1-0 down.

Coming back from a knee reconstruction and broken jaw that had limited him to just nine games in two years, Johns - hailed as NSW's knight in shining armour - showed no signs of rust to dominate the Maroons from the outset.

Remarkably, Johns had a hand in all five of NSW's tries while taunting the Maroons with his deep bag of kicks that featured an inspirational second-half 40-20. He also casually slotted in three tough conversions from near the sideline.

For Queensland, it was all bad news - taking its Telstra Stadium record to a woeful nine losses and one draw.

Even Johns - making his Origin comeback at 31 - sounded surprised by his remarkable comeback.

"It's good to have a win - I haven't had one for a while," Johns joked, referring to his NRL club Newcastle's winless start to the NRL season.

"I don't want to sound cocky or anything but I knew I was up to it. It was a dream for a while to come back and play Origin - that's what kept me going for the last two months.

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