Australia say no to Joey

It would appear that former rugby league great Andrew Johns has had his final involvement with the Australia rugby union side as it seems the ARU have gone off the idea of using him as a World Cup consultant.

However the decision to leave Johns out of their preparations has not been met with a positive response from the players who have been benefiting from Johns’ kicking expertise. The most notable advocate for Johns is centurion cap holder Stephen Larkham.

Larkham has urged the ARU to utilise Johns’ considerable talents in the lead up to France 2007, and said he would welcome further tutoring from the player nicknamed ‘Joey’.

The calls from Larkham echo the sentiments of both Lote Tuqiri and George Gregan who have both benefited from working with Johns. The three claim Johns has the knowledge and tactical awareness that will give the Wallabies an edge come the World Cup.

Yet it would appear Johns has had his last involvement with the squad at a training session this week, unless the ARU strive to make a formal arrangement with Johns, but they don’t seem to be heading that way.

Pat Wilson, ARU high performance chief, has said at this stage there are no plans to add Johns to the coaching set-up for the World Cup. The reason given is that Johns has existing commitments that would prevent him from being present in France until the conclusion of the pool stages.

“If Andrew happened to be in Europe during the World Cup and wanted to drop in on a training session that could be something we’d look at,” Wilson told Fox Sports.

“Beyond that, the reality is he’s got media commitments that will keep him here until the NRL grand final on September 30.”

By the time Johns could arrive in France Australia should be safely through to the knockout stages and could face a further three games, assuming they can make the final.

“Andrew has got some openings in October,” Johns’ manager John Fordham said. “But at this stage we’ve had no discussions with the ARU.”

365 Digital

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