Joey's weekly advice boosts Knights No.7 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Joey's weekly advice boosts Knights No.7

By Todd Balym 20/03/2009 05:40:48 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle star Jarrod Mullen says his weekly conversations with Halfback of the Century Andrew Johns are making him feel more at ease in the No.7 jumper.

Mullen has been thrust into the halfback role at Newcastle this year and away from five-eighth where he is most comfortable.

After guiding the Knights to a 34-20 round one loss to the Gold Coast, Mullen said he had been buoyed by a phone call from his mentor, the recently retired former NSW and Test great.

Mullen said Johns continued to watch Newcastle games very closely and calls him on a weekly basis to offer advice on areas of his game for improvement.

This week's advice flew in the face of Newcastle coach Brian Smith's directive for Mullen to get more involved in the game and run the ball more often.

"I talked to Joey after the game, he watched the game pretty closely and he told me to pick my times to run the ball," said Mullen on Friday.

"I think I ran it a bit too much early on.

"I need to pick my times a bit better and wait for the forwards to get tired.

"He gives me a call after every game to see how I pulled up and to give me a few tips and say what I can do better.

"He has helped me a lot and watches me very closely. I have to thank him for that."

Mullen has floated between five-eighth and halfback for the past two seasons since Johns retired prematurely with a neck injury in 2007.

But with Smith pairing Mullen with newly-recruited five-eighth Ben Rogers for the opening rounds of the competition the 21-year-old finds himself running the team around the paddock.

It was a position he wasn't too keen on early in his career, but Mullen said he is now more confident playing first receiver and carrying extra responsibility.

"I like being in charge of the side and leading the boys around," he said.

"At seven you get your hands on the ball a bit more."

Centre Adam MacDougall is in some doubt for Monday's clash with Cronulla as a viral illness has kept him from training all week.

Keith Lulia remains on standby.

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