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Rugby league legend Andrew Johns joins Wallabies training after Pumas call on NRL star Nathan Cleary

By Alex McLeod

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On the same day that Los Pumas called in current NRL star Nathan Cleary for some pointers around their kicking game, the Wallabies camp have lured in one of rugby league’s all-time greats.

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It’s been revealed that Andrew Johns, one of rugby league’s 13 Immortals, has spent some time helping the Australian coaching staff in Sydney after Wallabies halfback Nic White shared a photo of he and the two-time NRL champion on Instagram.

In what was supposed to be a low-key affair, White’s post to his 21,600 followers lifted the lid that Johns had joined the camp, with the Wallabies confirming the ex-Newcastle Knights star was invited to join the squad by assistant coach Scott Wisemantel.

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Sam Cane speaks to media ahead of Pumas v All Blacks rematch
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Sam Cane speaks to media ahead of Pumas v All Blacks rematch

The connection between Wisemantel, who played first-grade rugby league for the Parramatta Eels between 1988 and 1992, and Johns comes through their involvement with England head coach Eddie Jones.

Wisemantel was a member of England’s backroom staff as an attack coach under Jones throughout 2018 and 2019, while the English boss has also forged strong links with Johns himself.

As Wallabies head coach in 2004, Jones attempted to lure Johns into a cross-code move rugby union, before working with the former New South Wales and Kangaroos representative during England’s three-test tour of Australia four years ago.

Johns helped out at English training sessions as the tourists went on to secure a 3-0 series win over the previous year’s World Cup finalists.

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It seems that connection between Wisemantel, Jones and Johns has led to the latter, the eighth player rugby league history to be inducted as an Immortal of the sport in 2012, to link up with the Wallabies ahead of their final test of the year next week.

Depending on the result of Saturday night’s clash between the All Blacks and Los Pumas in Newcastle, the Wallabies could still be in the running for the tightly-contest Tri-Nations title when they host the Argentines at Bankwest Stadium in eight days’ time.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Johns was called upon to help Wisemantel run numerous backline drills on Thursday, the same day ex-Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika recruited current NRL star Nathan Cleary into the Pumas camp.

 

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Currently enjoying the NRL off-season following a grand final loss with the Penrith Panthers and a State of Origin series defeat with New South Wales, Cleary was brought into the Argentine squad by Cheika to help the young Pumas with their kicking.

Cheika is currently an assistant coach for Los Pumas after having recently held a coaching advisor role at the NRL’s Sydney Roosters, and is set to become head coach of Lebanon at next year’s Rugby League World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Pumas head coach Mario Ledesma, who became a rugby league fan while serving as an assistant coach to Cheika during their time at the Wallabies, was appreciative of Cleary’s involvement in the Argentine set-up.

“His kicking coach [ex-Waikato fullback/Canterbury Bulldogs and New Zealand Kiwis wing Daryl Halligan] is in New Zealand and he couldn’t come so he offered Nathan to come and give some pointers to the boys,” Ledesma said.

“I thought it was really nice of him to come and give us a hand.

“Being a big rugby league fan I was happy to have him.”

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Rugby league legend Andrew Johns joins Wallabies training after Pumas call on NRL star Nathan Cleary

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