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NRL immortal Andrew Johns works with playmakers at Wallabies training

By AAP
(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has finally got his man, luring rugby league great Andrew Johns to work with the Wallabies halves ahead of next month’s Test against South Africa.

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Fresh off his role in NSW’s defeat in the State of Origin series, league Immortal Johns was at Sydney’s Coogee Oval on Friday, enlisted by Jones to bring an edge to the Wallabies’ attack.

Jones was instrumental in trying to lure ex-halfback Johns across to rugby during his first tenure as Wallabies coach before it was knocked on the head by the Rugby Australia board.

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Johns spent extended time with veteran playmaker Bernard Foley and young gun Carter Gordon.

But the wily coach, who is openly a rugby league fan and has used a number of ex-players as his assistants, never gave up on getting Johns on board.

“We’ve known Andrew a long time and his ability to teach the nuances of first-receiver play is second to none,” Jones said of Johns.

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“To have him down here, particularly for a young guy like Carter (Gordon) is such a great learning experience.”

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While the session was a one-off, Jones said he’d jump at the opportunity to “mix” codes again.

“If we feel that there’s someone from rugby league who can help us, I certainly don’t have any discrimination against the sport.”

Jones will on Sunday name his first squad since taking over the top job from Dave Rennie in January, with the Test in Pretoria against the Springboks on July 8.

Jones also confirmed towering Western Force lock Izack Rodda wouldn’t be part of Australia’s World Cup campaign after re-injuring his foot.

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It’s a blow for both the Wallabies and the 26-year-old, who was part of the 2019 tournament.

“That’s bad luck for him. He’s had those couple of foot injuries. He’s just re-aggravated it so unfortunately, he won’t participate in the World Cup,” Jones said.

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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