Over a superb career Johns revolutionised rugby league and the way it was played. He turned the kick into a viable attacking option rather than a percentage play to end the set and displayed a silky skill set while conjuring calamitous results for opponents in a way that no other has.
Kicking was not the only strength of the Johns’ game. He had it all and still does in his newly retired state.
Resolute in defence and capable of the big hit when it was necessary, he would put his body on the line against men who were twice his size in an effort to get his side over the line.
Often ‘the man’ at all levels - club, NSW or Australia - he was single-handedly responsible for many a victory.
Johns could also run with the best of them and was a dangerous commodity with the ball in his hands; often leaving defenders in his wake when he did elect to run the ball.
His array of skills was sublime.
The short pass, the inside ball, the cut-out pass, the banana kick, the spiral bomb and even the occasional dart out of dummy half were all hallmarks of the Johns’ game. It was a game meticulously practiced every day at training.
Johns would work harder than anyone else in the training paddock and it showed on the field. Telling players where to run and hitting them with remarkable precision and regularity was his forte.
Johns has a swag of honours and highlights from an illustrious career.
That career really began way back in his childhood when he and his brother Matthew would practice movements in their backyard under the instruction of their father Gary; himself a handy footballer.
April 17, 1993 – Johns makes his first grade debut as a replacement against the Gold Coast Seagulls at Tweed Heads. The Knights lost 22-6, but Johns had his first start.
May 15, 1995 – Makes his State of Origin debut in a 2-0 loss to Queensland at the Sydney Football Stadium.
October 28, 1995 - As part of a young and inexperienced side, Bob Fulton gives Johns a starting spot and the goal kicking duties. Johns responds by converting from the sideline early and leading the Kangaroos to a 16-8 victory over England, and World Cup glory.
September 14, 1997 – Goes back on the field with a rib injury and what was revealed later to be a punctured lung to spark the Knights and put them into the Grand Final.
September 28, 1997 – In what may have been his greatest moment Johns plays the Grand Final, ignoring the advice of Manly club doctor Nathan Gibbs who warned him that “playing was dangerous and that he could die”. With just seconds to go Johns made an unlikely play – darting out of dummy half he moved the ball to a flying Darren Albert who crossed for a try to give the Knights their first premiership and move himself to the brink of greatness.
July 29, 2001 – Johns destroyed Canberra with a 34 point haul at Marathon Stadium, a performance that will always be one of the most commanding at club level.
September 8, 2001 – Recovers from a sickening and brutal collision with a team mate to kelp the Knights to a 40-6 point semi-final victory over the Roosters, scoring a famous try along the way.
September 30, 2001 – Leads the Knights to their second Grand Final victory after ambushing the Eels in the first half. The Knights win 30-24 and Johns wins the Clive Churchill Medal.
July 12, 2002 – Captains Australia and dominates Great Britain in a 64-10 drubbing.
June 15, 2005 – Johns makes a dramatic comeback to Origin, replacing Brett Kimmorley for game 2. Johns had been out with a knee injury in 2004 and missed the early part of 2005 with a broken jaw, making his comeback and destruction of Queensland all the more remarkable.
July 8, 2006 – Johns earns his place in the history books, overhauling Jason Taylor when he converted Riley Brown’s try to become the highest point scorer in history with 2107 points.
JOHNS’ CAREER WAS ALSO FILLED WITH MANY INDIVIDUAL AND CLUB MILESTONES.
First Grade debut: v Gold Coast Seagulls, 17/4/93.
Career Games: 249 for Newcastle Knights
Origin Debut: May 15 1995
Origin Games: 23 Games for NSW
Test Matches: 21 Tests 1995-2006, World Cup 1995, 2000, Kangaroo Tour 2000.
Premierships: 2, 1997 and 2001.
Most First Grade Games for Newcastle: 249
Most Tries in a Match for Newcastle: 4, v Canberra, Marathon Stadium, Rd 21, 2001. Newcastle won 54-26. (Tied with Darren Albert and Adam MacDougall)
Most Points in a Season for Newcastle: 279, 21 Games, 2001.
Most Points in a Match for Newcastle: 34, v Canberra, Marathon Stadium, Rd 21, 2001. Newcastle won 54-26.
Most Goals in a match for Newcastle: 11, v Canberra, Marathon Stadium, Rd 21, 2001. Newcastle won 54-26.
Most Points for Newcastle and NRL Record: 2176
Dally M Medallist: 1998 and 1999.
Clive Churchill Medallist: 2001.
Rugby League may never see another like the kid from Merewether who loves a surf and a beer.
Those who witnessed his greatness on the field will forever treasure the memories of watching Andrew “Joey” Johns play the game.