Brothers in arms as Matthew walks road to redemption
The turmoil surrounding one of rugby league’s most famous surnames looked to have passed when Andrew Johns was named the halfback in rugby league’s team of the centenary last season following his much publicised Ecstasy problem.
As older brother Matthew helped Joey recover from the darkest phase in his footballing life, little did he know that a secret, seven years in the making, would unveil itself to the public a year later, and release the same demons that cast Andrew into trauma and embarrassment.
It was late 2007 when Newcastle Knights legend Andrew Johns vented his shocking revelation on national television, stating that he had regularly used Ecstasy to combat the stresses of an NRL career which yielded two premiership victories, 27 tests for Australia, 23 Origins for NSW and three Dally M player of the year medals.
Johns decided to go public with his Ecstasy usage due to the fact he had already been caught with one tablet in England, which saw the former premiership winning half arrested by police.
Despite the apparent difficulties that were going to surround Andrew during this difficult period, he managed to eventually get through to the other side, thanks mainly to the help of wife Catherine and older brother Matthew.
Back to full health, Andrew was eventually named as the halfback in Rugby League’s team of the century last season, erasing any doubts that his use of ecstasy tarnished the career of a player many consider the greatest ever.
That moment ultimately signalled the end of a dreaded period for not only Andrew, but for those heavily involved with his daily life, particularly Matthew.
During the early stages of Andrew’s ecstasy controversy, Matthew feared for his brother’s life after he received calls from English authorities in regards to Andrew’s wellbeing.
Although his life was in no apparent danger, Matthew already knew that his brother faced arguably a challenge no Grand Final, Origin or Test match could muster.
And it seems now that Matthew faces the same challenge, just over a year to the day that younger brother Andrew was caught in off field turmoil.
Matthew was sacked by Channel Nine on Wednesday afternoon following revelations that he had group sex with a 19 year old woman in Christchurch seven years ago.
The former Origin player has since apologised for the incident ever occurring, stating it is something he wishes he could go back and change.
Although Matthew says the woman was a willing participant, he has accepted the fact that his actions were nowhere near moral and mature.
Indeed Matthew’s actions, that seemed dead and buried, have now cost him a multi-million dollar career in the media, and his coaching contract with the Melbourne Storm.
While the events of the last couple of days will not disappear in a hurry, Matthew and his family will no doubt begin the road to recovery as soon as possible.
His wife Trish says that the following events have indeed brought her closer to her husband than ever before.
No doubt younger brother Andrew will also need to bond closely to overcome yet another Johns’ travesty.
Regardless of the difficulties facing them, Andrew of all people should know that anything is possible with brother in arms.
And there is no arm that needs more holding right now than that of older brother Matthew.