Matty Johns likes a laugh more than most but he was shocked when a prank that rubbed a teammate the wrong way led to some seriously dangerous consequences.
Fortunately, the former NRL star turned popular Fox Sports media figure lived to tell the tale and enlightened listeners with the cracking story on the latest episode of The Matty Johns Podcast.
After leaving Newcastle in 2000, the older brother of legendary halfback Andrew played one season for Wigan in the UK Super League in 2001. There, he and winger Brian Carney messed with prop Neil Cowie, stealing a little stuffed frog he kept on his key-ring as a good-luck charm.
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Johns said the frog was given to Cowie by his daughter and he took it to every game, so he wasn't impressed when it went missing.
As part of the prank, Carney and his Australian partner in crime wrote ransom notes to Cowie. This, Johns said, made the front-rower start "going off his head".
After one particularly cruel note where the frog suggested it couldn't possibly live if it returned to Cowie's side, Johns and Carney decided the gag had gone far enough and returned the lucky charm.
But that wasn't sufficient for the big forward. "He (Cowie) said to Brian, 'Mate, I'm telling you, there's going to be a square-up'," Johns said on his podcast.
True to his word, Cowie hit back, but things unexpectedly took a very risky turn.
A week later, Carney picked Johns up for the 20-minute drive along the highway to training, shooting up the M6 listening to Peter Allen's hit song I go to Rio.
Then out of nowhere, they hear a massive explosion inside the car.
"It was like a lightning bolt had hit the car, and the whole back of Brian's car flew off into the distance," Johns said.
"It flew off like a phoenix, went over the top of a car behind us and started bouncing down the highway.
"What had happened, Neil Cowie the night before had got Brian's spare key off the fullback Kris Radlinski, gone into Brian's garage, taken all the screws out of the hatchback and then cut the wires.
"When we got to training, Neil Cowie was as white as a ghost when he told him what had happened, because he thought the moment we turned the car on, it would fall to bits.
"It wasn't until we started getting to 60mph (100km/h) that it basically exploded."
Johns answered a simple "yes" when asked by one of his sons if Cowie was someone who always went "too far", while the former playmaker's wife Trish pointed out the prank gone wrong "could have been horrendously tragic".