My son and I were watching the Newcastle Knights vs. Melbourne Storm game on (Setanta) TV over the weekend.
The Knights were doing it tough and the camera cut to the grandstand and a shot of the injured Andrew Johns whose anguished look showed he was living every second of the game along with his mates out on the paddock.
I spent a couple of minutes explaining to my son who he was; what a great player, the Beckham of rugby and all the usual trite stuff.
Two days later I’ve just finished telling him that the greatest player of his time has been forced to retire from the game.
What made Johns great went beyond the physical attributes, it went to the heart of the man; the vision and character to lead from the front coupled with the ruthlessness and incisiveness to spot and exploit his opponent’s slightest weakness.
The chink in the line exposed by his the inch perfect pass; the show and go; the terrible teasing kicks. Johns could kill you in any number of ways – all of them garnished with class and delivered with an assassin’s touch.
Johns has taken the decision to retire after receiving medical advice that his neck injury is such it may not survive another major collision without causing catastrophic spinal damage.
What a shame to end it this way.