Johns' Blues exile over - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Johns' Blues exile over

By David Beniuk and Steve Jancetic 18/05/2011 07:16:56 PM Comments (0)

Andrew Johns' NSW State of Origin exile is over, with the rugby league great back in the fold a year after a racism row saw him banished from the Blues.

New coach Ricky Stuart has invited the man who as a player orchestrated NSW's last Origin series victory in 2005 back to work with his side in the lead-up to next Wednesday's opening clash with Queensland.

"I've got Joey doing some work for me at training tomorrow and I'd be silly not to use him," Stuart told Network Ten.

"He's probably been one of - or the best - Origin players we've had.

"He's one of us. Absolutely. I want him to help me. I couldn't find a better bloke to ask and come out tomorrow and give us a help with certain parts of our game." Johns stepped down from his assistant coaching role with the Blues last year after admitting he'd called champion Queensland centre Greg Inglis a 'black c***'.

The remark so offended Blues back Timana Tahu that he walked out on the Origin II camp on the NSW north coast.

NSW Rugby league boss Geoff Carr said Johns had done his time, comparing the incident to the one that saw current Blues assistant Steve Roach stand down for calling referee Tony Archer a "cheat" in 2008.

"Both of them showed a lot of remorse, they apologised for what they did, they paid a penalty," Carr told AAP.

"Joey certainly did it very tough through his period. As I understand it he squared up with Timana.

"They were never going to get wiped. They've paid the appropriate penalty for what they've done and they've certainly worked hard to send the correct message that they were wrong and they weren't going to do it again.

"On that basis both of those ex-players were welcomed back." Carr said he had made it known to Stuart prior to the series that Johns was available should he be required.

Tahu has struggled with his career since the incident and was involved in a row himself late last year when a teenage player at an indigenous rugby league carnival accused the dual international himself of racism.

He twice took time off at former club Parramatta before linking with Penrith in March and last weekend suffered a season-ending pectoral muscle tear.

Johns answered an SOS from Stuart in 2005 after the Blues had lost the first match, taking to the game's biggest stage a week after returning from a broken jaw.

His performances in that series led to Johns being hailed as possibly the game's best ever player.

The series was Stuart's only one at the helm of the Blues before he was re-appointed to the job after a sweeping review of the side's set-up last year.

NSW have lost five Origin series since 2005.

Stuart has repeatedly emphasised the importance of involving former players in building a Blues culture that supports the current team in its quest to end Queensland's domination.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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