Johns' last hurrah is Knights' gain - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johns' last hurrah is Knights' gain

By Steve Jancetic 29/03/2006 07:51:11 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle skipper Andrew Johns's desire to win another premiership with the Knights is the reason behind his decision to quit representative football.

Johns said May's Anzac Test against New Zealand in Brisbane would be his representative swan song, and ruled himself out of this year's State of Origin series.

"I'm going to miss it, I know I'm going to miss it and it's going to hurt, but it's a sacrifice I'm going to have to make if I want to win a premiership with Newcastle," Johns told the Nine Network.

"I'm doing this decision not only for myself but for the club up here and my teammates."

Speculation on Johns' representative future began when he pulled out of the final leg of last year's Tri-Nations campaign due to a knee injury.

His contract with Newcastle, which runs through to the end of 2008, stipulated that he would have to retire from representative football after this year's Origin series, but Johns has brought that mark forward in a bid to preserve his body.

He hopes the decision will have a similar effect on his football to that of former Kangaroos and Sydney Roosters skipper Brad Fittler, whose club form went up several notches when he quit representative football in 2001.

"I seen what it done to Brad Fittler when he retired from rep football, he really galvanised their club at the Roosters and lifted them during that period," Johns said.

"I'd like to see myself hopefully doing the same."

The Knights' gain will be NSW's loss, with Johns playing an integral part in last year's come-from-behind Origin series victory.

His display in game two of that series will go down in folklore as one of the greatest individual performances of all time, but his retirement now opens the way for the likes of Brett Kimmorley, who was dumped after game one last year, Craig Gower or Matt Orford to grab the sky blue No.7 jumper.

Australian chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy said Johns had always been in his plans for the May 5 encounter with the Kiwis.

"We always thought he was available," McCarthy said.

"We've been told no-one's exempt at the moment (but) it's good to know he's said he's available."

Meanwhile McCarthy reassured St George Illawarra duo Mark Gasnier and Trent Barrett that they would not be excluded from representative teams this year if they made the decision to quit the NRL in 2007.

Barrett is eyeing a contract in England next year while Gasnier is at the centre of speculation linking him with a switch to rugby union in 2007.

"Their contract doesn't finish until the end of 2006, so as long as they're here, unless we get a directive from up above we'd see them as available," McCarthy said.

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