NRL: Johns amazed by Warriors talent

Former rugby league player Andrew Johns gives instruction to Manu Vatuvei. Photo / Dean Purcell
Former rugby league player Andrew Johns gives instruction to Manu Vatuvei. Photo / Dean Purcell

Australian rugby league great Andrew Johns gave Warriors fans a heartwarming Christmas message last night when he said he was "blown away' by the talent he's seen at the club.

Johns is this week working with the Warriors after being signed as their skills coach for the 2012 season and has worked mainly with the halves, hookers and fullbacks.

He attended a member's Christmas function last night, along with Warriors coach Brian McClennan, Junior Warriors coach John Ackland, new signing Nathan Friend and Micheal Luck, Manu Vatuvei, Kevin Locke, Shaun Johnson, Jerome Ropati, Ben Henry, Sam Rapira, Feleti Mateo, Krisnan Inu and Jacob Lillyman.

"I've been blown away by what I've seen among the young players this week. The potential is immense but I stress it's potential,'' he said.

"I'm a big fan of the under-20s competition and like to get to the ground early to watch the games. I love watching the Warriors because they play a style of football that's good to watch.

It's a credit to John [Ackland], the way he prepares the team.

"Some of the young guys at the club are, athletically, without peer. They're just so big and really there's no position for a lot of them. It's just a case of give them the ball and let them play.''

His first week with the club has given him a chance to work closely with Shaun Johnson, a player who excited him the first time he appeared in the NYC in 2009.

Since then the 21-year-old has gone on to make his NRL debut this year, making 16 first-grade appearances and being named the club's Young Player of the Year.

"There are some people who play sport who have been given a gift and he's one of the lucky ones,'' said Johns. "But I come back to that word potential. I've been really impressed with the way he has been working and hopefully Shaun realises he's very lucky and makes the most of the talent he has been given.''

Johns will return in the New Year for another week with the Warriors and will also be used in his role during the season. He has similar contracts with a number of NRL clubs including Canterbury-Bankstown, Gold Coast and Melbourne as well as the Rebels in rugby union.

- APNZ

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