by: Andrew Webster From:The Daily Telegraph, September 28, 2012
Andrew Johns named a rugby league immortal
Andrew Johns can officially lay claim to being a living legend, after being voted in as rugby league’s eighth immortal.
Andrew Johns – Rugby League’s 8th Immortal. Source: The Daily Telegraph
Andrew Johns tries to come to terms with being named the 8th Immortal. Picture: Mark Evans Source: The Daily Telegraph
THE superb playing career of Andrew Johns was last night immortalised in history when he was inducted into the most exclusive club in rugby league.
As expected, Johns was revealed as the eighth Immortal at the black-tie Men of League function in Sydney, surrounded by the surviving inductees and greats of the game.
They included those he beat: Ron Coote, Norm Provan and Mal Meninga, all of whom would not have looked out of place alongside Johns.
The former Kangaroos, NSW and Newcastle halfback looked genuinely stunned and humbled when NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced his inclusion.
Johns becomes an Immortal alongside the late Clive Churchill and Arthur Beetson, Johnny Raper, Reg Gasnier, Bob Fulton, Graeme Langlands and Wally Lewis.
Andrew Johns, Graeme Langlands, Bob Fulton, Wally Lewis and Johnny Raper
Andrew Johns announced as the 8th Immortal, pictured with other living Immortals, Graeme Langlands, Bob Fulton, Wally Lewis and Johnny Raper. Picture: Mark EvansSource: The Daily Telegraph
The 38-year-old won two premierships with the Knights, in 1997 and 2001, and also helped engineer series wins for the Blues and Kangaroos. But his real contribution came in the way he changed halfback play with an all-round game that is unlikely to ever be equalled.
Of course, the induction of Johns will polarise opinion.
The growing belief throughout this week that Johns would gain immortality stirred a chorus of discontent from those who argued he should have been excluded for admitting he had used recreational drugs during his career.
Johns referred to his troubled past when he delivered an emotional acceptance speech last night.
“I don’t feel like I am worthy,” Johns said.
“There are things, if I could do it all again, I would change, without a doubt. I’ve learnt from those things. As incredibly tough as they were, they make you the person you are.
“Rugby league has given me everything. I’d hate to see where I was without it. It still gives me so much.”
Origin and Knights great
Andrew Johns celebrates scoring try during Game One of State of Origin RL Series (L) and holding the NRL Premiership trophy aloft following victory in the 2001 grand final.Source: The Daily Telegraph
The sole judging criteria to gain entry to the coveted group, ever since Rugby League Week devised the Immortals concept in 1981, has been restricted to whatever a player achieved on the field.
Whatever he did off the field, good or bad, had to be forgotten.
Nevertheless, Raper had been of the opinion that Johns should not be considered because of his drug use when the 18-strong judging panel met three months ago. But the St George legend appeared to soften that stance yesterday.
“When you take a look at it not every player is an angel,” Raper told Sky Sport Radio. “I don’t see why you should take it off someone who gets in a little bit of trouble. Andrew Johns got in a little bit of trouble, but he should be considered for what he did on the field.”