Eels, Knights consider Johns' future - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels, Knights consider Johns' future

By David Beniuk 15/06/2010 09:27:48 PM Comments (0)

Parramatta are reviewing Andrew Johns' position as an assistant coach following his admission to a racial slur while his former NRL club Newcastle seek more information.

The Eels on Tuesday became the first of Johns' employers to publicly reconsider the relationship after the league great admitted he had made a disparaging comment about Queensland star Greg Inglis.

"We haven't made that decision yet," Eels CEO Paul Osborne told AAP on Tuesday.

"I've spoken to (Johns' manager) John Fordham, we're going to catch up in the next couple of days."

The drama in Parramatta's relationship with Johns is heightened by the fact it was an Eels star, Timana Tahu, who walked out of the NSW State of Origin camp in protest at the Blues assistant coach's comments.

Both players' former club, Newcastle, will seek further information before deciding on Johns' future there as an assistant.

"Until we can establish all these facts, we feel it would be unfair to make any decisions on Andrew's ongoing involvement as a part-time specialist coach," Knights CEO Steve Burraston said in a statement on Tuesday.

"I have asked the relevant Knights personnel to meet with Andrew once he has had an opportunity to address his immediate issues."

Johns' other employers have so far stuck by him.

The Nine Network said earlier this week they had accepted his apology, while News Ltd has not yet made a call on whether he will continue as a columnist.

Johns' manager John Fordham told AAP: "All contracts that currently exist continue."

Austereo, the radio network Johns works for as part of Triple M's coverage of Monday night games, became the latest to back the former Blues and Test great on Tuesday despite him missing this week's match.

"Austereo acknowledges Andrew Johns' apology and genuine remorse," Sydney general manager Helen Davies said in a statement.

"We continue to support him in a professional capacity and he will remain a contracted presenter on Triple M."

Johns' other Triple M program, The Grapple, is off air during the soccer World Cup while co-presenter Tony Squires is in South Africa.

Osborne is holding out hope he can get Johns and Tahu together to sort out their differences.

"We'll try and get them together at some point," he said.

"It would be great if we could. I'll talk about that with John Fordham."

Mediation is an option supported by NRL boss David Gallop.

"(Johns) has talked to Timana, hopefully that will happen again in the next short period," Gallop told Fox Sports.

"I'd like to see them get together again and go over the issues, perhaps with a professional mediator."

Gallop said the league took the issue of racism seriously.

"We don't want to see racism in the game," he said.

"These kinds of comments are offensive and we need to educate everyone about that.

"This has been a blow when we should be talking about the lead-up to a fantastic Origin game."

Meanwhile, an Aboriginal leader says Johns let fly with several offensive racist slurs including "coon, Abbo, nigger and monkey" before Tahu's dramatic Origin walkout.

Sol Bellear - an NRL Indigenous Council board member - told AAP he had spoken to senior members of Tahu's family who revealed the full extent of Johns' intoxicated comments during a Blues bonding session in northern NSW last Wednesday.

"It was all the usual things: 'you back "c", Abbo, coon, nigger, monkey' - they were all used," said Bellear.

"It wasn't just directed at (Israel) Folau and GI (Greg Inglis) it was at (Sam) Thaiday and JT (Johnathan Thurston)."

But Johns' manager John Fordham dismissed Bellear's allegations.

"These claims are totally refuted and rejected," he said.

NSW skipper Kurt Gidley also came to Johns' defence on Tuesday, saying his former Newcastle team-mate was not a racist.

He also denied the NSW Origin set-up had a racist culture, dismissing the suggestion as "outrageous".

"It is definitely not acceptable to make a racial slur - to label NSW that is ridiculous," Gidley said.

Tahu said he had no regrets over his actions as he spoke briefly with reporters in Newcastle on Tuesday, but did reveal he had been in contact with Johns and was eager for another meeting.

"This has been a rough couple of days but I have made my stand," he said.

"I have spoken to Joey. I hope to speak to him again very soon."

Former international Steve Renouf - who believed Johns should be banned from rugby league coaching and commentary roles - demanded more from the NRL, urging them to show some "bollocks" and tackle racism head-on.

"As a body, the NRL can do something about it and this is a perfect time to push ahead with it," Renouf told AAP on Monday.

"There's been no co-ordinated response (from rugby league) and what has been done, has come from outside the league.

"That's poor.

"This wasn't just a one-off.

"If they have to resort to using racism to get the boys up for a game, then they're in very deep trouble.

"To use that in a team bonding is disgraceful.

"If what Timana is saying is true, and I'll take Timana's word for it, then it needs to be addressed urgently."

Bellear said Tahu's family favoured a mediation process where three or four people, including Tahu, sat down with Johns and explained to him why his comments were so hurtful and disrespectful.

"Rather than him do community work in an Aboriginal organisation, he should go out and talk to some former players and other non-Aboriginal players because they have no idea how hurtful it is when those things are said," he said.

Bellear said he would also take a proposal by Penrith captain Petero Civoniceva to play a "round against racism" to an Australian Rugby League board meeting in Brisbane on Thursday.

Bellear, who was the inaugural manager of the Indigenous All Stars earlier this year, said NSW team management also had a case to answer for after attempting to cover-up the Tahu affair.

"Right from the beginning this has been covered up," he said.

"The ARL I don't think knew about it for quite some time later but the (NSW) team management has really got something to answer for."

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