Joey Johns giving Sharks new bite

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :In the news, Sharks, Super 14 on 8 Jan 2009 at 10:12
Tagged with : ,

Recruiting or using high-profile Rugby League players to boost a Rugby Union team is nothing new, but the Durban-based Sharks scored a major coup this week when they secured the services of the legendary Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns.

Sharks coach John Plumtree confirmed to Jan de Koning of on Wednesday that the highly acclaimed and record breaking League star, Johns, was working with his team during their Super 14 pre-season build-up.

And it says a lot about the Sharks’ determination to finally win a Super Rugby title that they scooped the biggest name from the 13-man code.

While these cross-code switches are too numerous to mention, none come bigger than Johns.

In the playing ranks just think Andrew Walker, Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Ryan Cross, Brad Thorn, Lesley Vainikolo, Clinton Schifcofske and Timana Tahu from a more recent vintage – Frano Botica, Michael Cleary, Jonathan Davies, George Fairbairn, Ray French, John Gallagher, Scott Gibbs, Scott Quinnell, Jason Robinson, Alan Tait and Va’aiga ‘Inga’ Tuigamala of the older generation.

Now, mention Johns and the accolades can make the aforementioned list seem almost ordinary.

Johns is considered by connoisseurs as one of the greatest players of all time, and was heralded as the world’s best League halfback (flyhalf) for a number of years.

He is one of only two players, the other being Darren Lockyer, to have won the Golden Boot Award more than once and is the only player to have won the Dally M Medal for Best Player in the National Rugby League of Australia three times. Johns finished his career as the highest points scorer in Australian First Grade Premiership history with 2,176 points.

The Sharks’ Currie Cup-winning coach, Plumtree, has a far more simplistic view that doesn’t involve the now retired League legend’s statistics or awards.

“He can do stuff that no other player can do,” Plumtree told during a break from his team’s training regime.

“Option taking in taking the ball to the line was his hallmark,” Plumtree added, in explaining the reasoning behind Johns’s visit to Durban.

“There’s no doubt he was an outstanding playmaker [in his playing days] and he is looking to improve Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn [the Sharks’ flyhalves].

“He has also been great with [Springbok centre] Adi Jacobs.

“Decision making is very important and he is imparting his knowledge onto our players and they are enjoying his presence,” Plumtree added.

The Sharks coach also revealed that his team has a few injury concerns, but none that are long-term problems.

Veteran lock Albert van den Berg is expected to be sidelined for another four weeks after off-season shoulder surgery, World Cup-winning Bok hooker Bismark du Plessis (hamstring and knee surgery) are also still weeks away from a return, flank Jacques Botes (groin) is pencilled in for a return in three to four weeks and prop Pat Cilliers (knee injury in training) is sidelined for an undetermined period.

“They should all be back in time for the start of the Super 14,” Plumtree said.


  • Very pro-active from the Sharks it seems.

  • Comment 1, posted at 08.01.09 10:29:59 by McLovin Reply
  • I’m not happy that Pat has hurt his knee again. That does not bode well at all.

  • Comment 2, posted at 08.01.09 10:36:25 by robdylan Reply
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  • this is possibly the most interesting and revolutionary signing I can ever remember in SA.

    this guy Barry Johns is supremely talented, i dont know if he will play, but the sheer skill levels and knowledge he can pass onto Pienaar and Steyn are massive.

    I’ve thought the Sharks were going to be the best SA side the last two years, but that the Bulls might be the best side this year. However, Plumtree truly seems to be an outstanding coach, not only is the sharks pack by far the best drilled in SA, but he is able to think out of the box with a purchase like this. Cant wait for 2009.

  • Comment 3, posted at 08.01.09 11:28:30 by cab Reply

  • @cab (Comment 3) : howzit Cabbo… happy New Year.

    BTW, this is Andrew Johns, not Barry… and he’s only going to be helping out with coaching for a week or two πŸ™‚

  • Comment 4, posted at 08.01.09 11:34:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) :
    lol, sorry ‘Andrew’ Johns.
    He’s a bladdy good flyhalf, the amount of skills and experience this guy will pass on will be huge.

  • Comment 5, posted at 08.01.09 11:46:42 by cab Reply

  • @cab (Comment 5) : I agree. Hope he spends LOTS of time with Frans, just in case

  • Comment 6, posted at 08.01.09 12:34:33 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 6) :
    YES, if johns can’t get steyn to quicken up at flyhalf, nothing will.
    you know if michelak is available for the sharks this year.
    there’s another oke at keo who is pretty well informed, seems that the sharks have a heeluva coaching staff, with two other kiwis on board, one a former wellington coach. you okes will be the best coached SA side ever especially if Johns adds the value that most think.

  • Comment 7, posted at 08.01.09 13:50:39 by cab Reply

  • @cab (Comment 7) : which oke?

    The Kiwis are Plumtree himself and Chris Boyd.

    michalak isn’t available this year – he’s back with Toulouse.

  • Comment 8, posted at 08.01.09 14:00:39 by robdylan Reply
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  • 35 sleeps to go….

  • Comment 9, posted at 08.01.09 14:06:17 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 9) : and the FL still needs SO much work

  • Comment 10, posted at 08.01.09 15:34:11 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 8) :
    oh right RobbieD, it seems you are just as well informed.
    grant bashford must be south african, am thinking of chris boyd.
    michelak will be a loss, hopefully ruan steps up for the good of the sharks and SA as a whole
    bit risky going in without a recognised flyhalf, wonder if Johns wont be on the bench for the opening few games.

  • Comment 11, posted at 08.01.09 15:35:29 by cab Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : FL? Like where you have to pick a bunch of players etc? Or just predict the scores?

  • Comment 12, posted at 08.01.09 15:35:59 by McLovin Reply

  • @cab (Comment 11) : I would be very surprised to see Johns on the bench. πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 13, posted at 08.01.09 15:37:55 by McLovin Reply

  • On the 26 August 2007 Johns was arrested for fare evasion on the London Underground, and subsequently found to be in possession of one ecstasy tablet.

  • Comment 14, posted at 08.01.09 15:38:49 by McLovin Reply

  • johns wont be playing, his involvment is as coach/advisor. He has a bulging disc in his neck which could be disastrous if he gets injured. Steyn is not halfback material yet, might neva be. Sum1 please tell him to cut his damn hair or im gona throw bubblegum into it

  • Comment 15, posted at 09.01.09 07:03:50 by jarsonx Reply
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  • @McLovin (Comment 12) : the former

  • Comment 16, posted at 09.01.09 10:13:07 by robdylan Reply
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  • OK I only just saw this article. What the hell is Plum thinking? 😯 Have you ever seen a game of league? NO skill whatsoever. The run of play is:

    1. IF current tackle count = 6, give possession to the other team and set tackle count = 0; ELSE Scrumhalf retrieves ball
    2. Scrumhalf passes down the line.
    3. Receiving player passes down the line.
    4. Receiving player MAY pass again down the line but 9 times out of 10 he just runs into the defenders.
    5. Ball carrier gets tackled and forced to ground.
    6. Tacklers back off.
    7. Tackled player gets up and back heels ball to scrum half
    8. Go to 1.

    It’s boring as hell. πŸ™„

  • Comment 17, posted at 09.01.09 13:10:37 by klempie Reply

  • @klempie (Comment 17) : League coaches have been used with quite a bit of success in Eng & Aus. I think usually with regards to defence and kicking. But I’m not sure.

    Hopefully this Johns fellow can coach as good as he played. Not that I ever saw him play.

    Suppose any advantage no matter how small is good.

  • Comment 18, posted at 09.01.09 13:36:58 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 18) : Well, if it’s defense then I can understand it as there is a tackle in league every 5 seconds. If it’s for decision making then I have my doubts as the only decision the scrummies seem to have to make is whether to pass left or right. πŸ™„

  • Comment 19, posted at 09.01.09 13:45:25 by klempie Reply

  • @klempie (Comment 19) : Suppose if they’re so good at defense, imagine how good they must be at attacking & decision making… πŸ˜‰

    I wonder if he’s a member of mensa? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 20, posted at 09.01.09 13:50:31 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 20) : Hopefully not or else we are doomed! πŸ˜›

  • Comment 21, posted at 09.01.09 13:59:13 by klempie Reply

  • @klempie (Comment 19) : only decision the scrummies seem to have to make is whether to pass left or right

    Amazing how regularly SA scrummies get that one wrong, though…

  • Comment 22, posted at 09.01.09 14:10:45 by robdylan Reply
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