Johns OK for Origin comeback: coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johns OK for Origin comeback: coach

By Michael Cox 27/03/2007 05:57:27 PM Comments (0)

The only person standing in the way of Andrew Johns making a return to State of Origin now appears to be the man himself with Newcastle coach Brian Smith giving the comeback his blessing on Tuesday.

"I would never stand in the way of any player, ever," Smith said of the possible Origin swansong for his captain and halfback.

Johns was on Tuesday named to make his return for the Knights in Monday night's clash against Canberra, the champion playmaker still needing to pass a series of tests before being cleared to take on the Raiders.

Johns hasn't played since being knocked unconscious by Bulldogs forward Sonny Bill Williams four minutes into the opening game of the season.

He last played for NSW in 2005, when he masterminded a dramatic come-from-behind series victory for the Blues, and officially retired from representative football after last year's Anzac Test.

"The players train so hard and that's the epitome, I would imagine, for players of rugby league, to play Origin," Smith said.

"Even though he's been there and done it before and proven himself, that's what makes champion players champion players, they want to do it again.

"He knows how I feel, the club knows how I feel but it's really first thing's first.

"Andrew's got to get some form on the board, if he does that and he wants to do it, well then we can sort out the rest of it."

Smith's backing follows similar sentiments from Knights board member Paul Harragon, while NSW coach Graham Murray has stated he would welcome Johns back into the fold for this year's series.

Johns would still need permission from the ARL to rescind his representative retirement, but the governing body would be unlikely to stand in his way for it would surely mean more bums on seats, especially for game two in Sydney.

That means the only obstacle is Johns declaring his availability, the 32-year-old having stated that he wanted to see how his form was before making a decision.

If he is passed fit to play against the Raiders on Monday he will have seven matches in which to gauge his form before the opening game of the series on May 23.

Smith was extremely confident his halfback would take the field against Canberra.

"He did some running yesterday and did some super-sets in the gym; your ears are popping doing those I believe," he said.

"Today he's done a weight session again this morning. He's doing the swimming session this afternoon.

"He's just going ahead as if he's ready to go."

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