Every so often sport tosses up one of those moments even the casual observer has to witness for themselves.
When Andrew Johns runs out onto Telstra Stadium on Wednesday night….it will be one of those moments.
Andrew Johns is the best player I have ever seen. He has dominated the game at every level and stamped himself as one of the best Rugby League players of all time.
But this is State Of Origin. This is the toughest football you will find anywhere in the world. This level has destroyed great players and if your not at 100%, you can not only cost your team the game, but you can cost your team a thrashing.
So everyone will tune in on Wednesday Night to get the answer to one question….Can Joey do it?
Personally, I think NSW had no other choice but to select Johns. I said last week that I would have selected Johns simply on that fact that Andrew Johns at 50% is still the best halfback in the game.
At Origin level, Johns will find himself once again surrounded by top class talent. He wont have to drag NSW kicking and screaming to a win like he would a struggling Newcastle Knights outfit.
I think Johns should take a leaf out of the Allan Langer Book of Origin comebacks.
When Langer made his comeback, he didn’t get to involved in the physical side of the game. His job was simply to guide the team around the park, provide leadership, and give QLD a good kicking game.
Johns should be looking to do the same thing. Johns can win this second Origin game without ever being tackled. His kicking and passing is enough to cause QLD nightmares.
Queensland meanwhile will look to test Johns out. Expect QLD to put a heap of pressure on Johns as he is about to kick. I’d also expect them to run at him all night. Johns is short of a run, there is not doubt about that and QLD will look to wear him down and hopefully dull his attacking game.
What ever the result, I think this could be a career defining game for Andrew Johns. People tend to remember a players whole career on the performances they put in nearing the end of their career.
This is Origin, this is the pinnacle. If Johns can come back on a short preparation and get NSW back into this series with a good performance, people will remember that for a long, long time.
Having said that, if Johns comes back and plays poorly or, heaven forbid, gets injured again, that will also stick in the minds of punters when they look back on Johns illustrious career.
Remember when Freddy bowed out of State Of Origin football the first time? Thats massive loss as Langer came back from England really hurt his legacy. Thankfully for Fittler he was able to come back last year and finish his incredible Origin career off in style….but at 31 years of age and with a body thats becoming more and more fragile, Johns might not have the luxury of a second chance.