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Johns in sevens side

By Brent Read 30/01/2003 08:31:11 PM Comments (0)

World Sevens organisers breathed a huge sigh of relief on Thursday when Newcastle captain Andrew Johns was confirmed as a starter for this weekend's tournament.

But not all the news emanating from the Knights camp was good, with Test winger Timana Tahu (calves) ruled out and replaced by Justin Ryder in Newcastle's 11-man squad.

Johns has struggled through a disrupted pre-season, undergoing groin surgery and suffering a cut leg in a surfing accident.

"He's been very good in the last week," Newcastle coach Michael Hagan said today.

"That's the competitive nature that comes out in him at this time of year."

Confirmation of Johns' availability is a huge boost for the Knights and ensures they will go into the tournament among the favourites.

The Test captain was the star of Newcastle's sevens win in 1996, taking out the player-of-the-tournament award after masterminding the Knights' 48-18 win over North Sydney in the final.

Sports betting agency Centrebet has Newcastle on the third rung of betting at $8 alongside St George Illawarra and behind defending champion Parramatta ($7.50) and the Sydney Roosters ($5.50).

"Andrew Johns sees things in the 13-a-side game so he's going to see plenty more things in the seven-a-side game," Hagan said.

"It's just up to the other players to pick up on the cues and keep with him."

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