Joey, it’s time: You’re the 2018 NSW Blues Origin coach

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    With New South Wales losing their 11th series in the last 12 years, it’s not time to hit the panic button. That time was about six years ago. The Blues are way past the stage of anxiety kicking in; they’re firmly entrenched in the ‘what the hell do we do now?’ stage.

    They say desperate times call for desperate measures, but I disagree. Desperate times call for sound and rational measures. Sure, it doesn’t sound as sexy, but it’s a lot smarter.

    To wit, it stands to reason that NSW should take the savvy option, and call on one of the most brilliant rugby league minds in history. They should beg Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns to be the Blues’ Origin coach for 2018.

    After the Blues’ Game 2 capitulation, Johns was as animated, frustrated and passionate as I’ve seen him. He talked about how much he loves the sky blue jumper, and how disappointed he was that NSW had let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. He talked with emotion, and he talked with tactical nous.

    He talked like a coach.

    Andrew Johns coach

    (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

    Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin – never to be confused with Michael Parkinson – actually gauged the situation perfectly, and asked a poignant and timely question: would Johns consider coaching the Blues?

    Joey was fairly emphatic with his response in saying no. He stated that he has enough going on his life, while also giving the distinct impression that he didn’t consider himself a coach. Plus, out of respect to Laurie Daley, the series was still very much alive.

    Well, the series is well and truly dead now. More accurately, any momentum and optimism NSW had after their impressive Game 1 victory is dead. As such, the question was once more put to Johns after Game 3, when he was yet again disappointed and deflated.

    This time the reply wasn’t quite as definitive. Johns hesitated. He then opened the door a little with an “I don’t know”, followed by an unconvincing rejection, with the throw-in line “I don’t need the pressure in my life”, delivered with a trademark grin.

    Though it would be easy to be dismissive of the last comment, or even suggest it shows a lack of courage and effort that he was ironically demanding of the NSW players, it’s worth pointing out Joey’s well-chronicled battle with drugs and depression.

    Johns didn’t respond too well to the pressures of being a high-profile footballer, so if he mentions pressure as a contributing factor to him knocking back the NSW coaching gig, it’s irresponsible to dismiss it. His health and wellbeing is far more important than a desire to return NSW to Origin glory. As big as State of Origin is, it remains just a game.

    If you don’t believe Johns’ reasons for taking drugs earlier in his life, that’s your prerogative. Yet if there is even a small chance he was telling the truth, then we need to respect it and back off, along with being sensitive to his ‘pressure’ comments when discussing a return to Origin.

    Additionally, while we’re on the subject, if you’re one of those people that believe Johns taking drugs enhanced his performance and his career – thus meaning he should be wiped out of the game forever – then please jog along now. That belief is as misguided as it is irrelevant.

    But if there is even a small chance that Johns is keen to coach the Blues next year, the NSW powers that be should implore him to do the job. Beg him. Tell him his state needs him.

    Johns is one of the most astute football brains the game has. Though Johnathan Thurston has gained serious momentum in the debate of who the greatest rugby league player of all time is, Johns remains number one in many people’s eyes, including mine. To have that type of talent sitting on the sidelines, with a passion for his state still clearly evident, is a complete waste.

    Joey should be the Blues coach for 2018, and everything should be done to make it happen. If that means thinking outside the box, and appointing co-coaches, so be it. One could handle all the tactics and motivational speeches, while another could handle all media responsibilities, lessening the burden – and pressure – on Johns.

    Laurie Daley surely can’t coach the Blues again. Though no one questions his love for NSW or the fact he’s a good bloke, coaching is a results-based occupation. He simply doesn’t have the results on the scoreboard, in the way the Blues have performed tactically, and in their execution.

    It’s not always fair to blame the coach, but life and Origin aren’t fair.

    So if Daley goes, the NSW will need a new head coach. What better replacement than arguably the best player of all time, one of the highest football IQs of all time, and one of the most passionate New South Welshmen of all time?

    It makes sense, so make it happen.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (138)

    • July 14th 2017 @ 5:07am
      soapit said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:07am | ! Report

      johns was assistant coach for a while in the losing streak wasnt he? sure he has the passion but is there much evidence his coaching ideas would work?

      • July 14th 2017 @ 7:23am
        Adsa said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

        Johns left as an assistant coach from the blues after he reportedly referred to Inglis as a #### **** at the bar whilst he was drinking. His former team mate Timana Tahu left the camp in disgust. Is this really the type of person that the Blues want as their coach?

        • July 14th 2017 @ 9:09am
          nopuritan said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          Adsa, I thiink you’ll find it wasn’t at the bar and he wasn’t drinking.
          Fantastic motivation though for Inglis and his Qld brothers in arms to wipe the floor with NSW until his coaching stint ends.
          It worked last time he opened his grubby mouth.

        • July 14th 2017 @ 9:17am
          mushi said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

          I think it is the type of person the Blue’s want Adsa. That’s why they constantly bag Inglis for choosing “the easy way” even though the reason he hid his eligiblity was he felt indigenous players weren’t treated equally in NSW –
          something reinforced by John’s attitude.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 9:21am
        Lang Park Graveyard said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Johns as coach is a bad idea. Unfortunately there is a substantial elephant in the room here, which would no doubt still linger in the mind of Joey. How could it not? It was a shameful saga. You can bet your bottom dollar that at some point the media will revisit said elephant, particularly if a fit GI is lining up for a swansong with the maroons, and Johns is the opposition coach.

        If the Blues are looking to build a culture based on values and character they should set the example and go in a different direction to Johns, and have him come on board in a low key tactical capacity, and enable him to have a role without being the main story. Probably the smart play for Andrew, if he isn’t comfortable with the pressure, scrutiny and hype that will come if he takes the head coach role.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 1:15pm
        soapit said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        completely different question being answered there guys and probably a valid one. i was more thinking of evidence of genuine ability for tactics as a first box to tick tho.

        and pretty sure it was in a defensive drill

    • July 14th 2017 @ 6:10am
      JohnnoMcJohnno said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      “Joey’s well-chronicled battle with drugs and depression.”

      Whilst I think Joey Johns has the nous and the passion to be successful, it’s also not hard to see a gig like NSW coach making his depression worse. Unless that depression is now totally under control, he shouldn’t consider the job.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 9:12am
        nopuritan said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        His use of drugs, in particular ecstacy, was as a performance enhancer. It is an amphetamine based substance after all.
        What’s his game plan gonna be?
        Slip the team an eccy in the frecky for brekky?

        • July 14th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Dr Chop said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          You’ve obviously never taken it if you think it could be performance enhancing.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 12:43pm
            mushi said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            You’ve obviously never worked on a trading floor

        • Columnist

          July 14th 2017 @ 12:25pm
          Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          Oh. You’re one of “them”. Great.

        • July 14th 2017 @ 2:15pm
          Lewis McGahan said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

          Poor comment, ecstasy isn’t that great at physical enhancemnt considering most of its effects centre on psychoactive effects like reducing anxiety –

          In fact, it’s an intensely poor assumption to think that illegal drugs are actually great at all for perfomance enhancement

        • July 14th 2017 @ 2:54pm
          Les Norton said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

          I am with you on his drug taking nopuritan, I am bewildered by the author’s opinion of shaking it off as if there was no wrong in him taking them. I agree that he deserved all the support he could get to overcome his issue and that his health is the main priority. I would suggest it is a performance enhancer as it increases the heart rate allowing more oxygen into the system, however I am not a doctor and the negatives may outweigh the positives, The fact is he took banned substances for the majority of his career and had he been caught, would have copped heavy suspensions. It is no example for young people playing the game and serious questions have to be asked about appointing him an immortal.
          The author telling people to jog along now because their opinion is misguided and irrelevant hardly appears to be journalistic objectivity and may come across to readers as narcissism. It is fairly evident this is a debatable topic and all opinions should be considered.

          • Columnist

            July 14th 2017 @ 3:05pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

            Drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine are judged by scientists to have no performance-enhancing effects.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 3:34pm
              Albatross said | July 14th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

              The blues camp and bonding sessions would never be the same again.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 4:59pm
              qwetzen said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

              Whether the drugs he took were performance enhancing or not is beside the point. The point being that he broke the law.

              It’s a good time to point out the differences between the AFL and the NSW RL cultures. In Melbourne two AFL suits have resigned as a result of playing away from home. In Sinney they want to reward a druggie.

              • Columnist

                July 14th 2017 @ 5:32pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                So how does breaking the law impact your credentials to be a coach?

              • July 14th 2017 @ 11:24pm
                Trenno said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

                Well I know one bloke that reckons they are better than lego…

            • July 14th 2017 @ 5:27pm
              Craig said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

              Both ASADA and WADA would disagree with you.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 9:07pm
              Rob said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

              Ryan, Talk to a medical professional and police. They will tell you drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine make people six foot tall and bullet proof. That why people love taking the stuff. It is banned in the sporting world. Horse trainers have given it to horses? I suppose it’s a horse trainers job to make his Horse party harder? A confident footballer without fear, increased spacial awareness and full of adrenalin might go alright. Are you seriously that naive?

              • July 15th 2017 @ 7:53am
                Art Vanderlay said | July 15th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

                He might also see things that aren’t there Rob. No way is an e an aid to a footballer, onfield anyway.

              • July 15th 2017 @ 9:28am
                Rob said | July 15th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

                Hallucination are caused by taking different drugs Art. Maybe if he licked a cane toad. The Cane Toad are starting to overdose from licking the Blues.

              • July 15th 2017 @ 9:32pm
                Art Vanderlay said | July 15th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

                You haven’t taken e then Rob.

            • July 15th 2017 @ 9:33am
              Oingo Boingo said | July 15th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

              They do when ya playing “ROCK N ROLL”.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 4:19pm
            Lewis McGahan said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

            Heart rate increases physiologically to increase cardaic output – either in direct response to a raised demand or a perceived one (the fight-flight response)

            Playing the game, the build-up and all the activity will be more that sufficient to induce tachycardia in any player. Importantly, their heart rate will vary from moment to moment

            A chemically induced tachycardia does not mean it’s benfecial. There’s a reason why we’re not permanently clocked to 100+ bpm because it’s a considerable strain on the heart. Increased heart rate means increased O2 demand from the cardiac tissue placing it under strain

            The argument that there’s better oxygenation is also not necessarily true as a raised heart rate means increased velocity of the blood, reducing the time it spends in pulmonary circulation reducing the amount of gas exchange with the alveoli

            So a constant tachycardia from drugs isn’t going to help

            • July 14th 2017 @ 9:12pm
              Rob said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

              Maybe that’s why Joey didn’t play as many games as many other great players. To hard to fast.

        • July 16th 2017 @ 11:41am
          Grant said | July 16th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Ridiculous comment. If you had a pinger before a game you would not play better, in fact your performance would be severely affected for the worse. I can tell you from experience I wouldn’t want to play a game of pool on it let alone a game of Rugby League!

          Seriously go and try it and have a workout, see how “performance enhancing” it really is!

    • July 14th 2017 @ 6:11am
      The Spectator said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      Im worried about Johns on his own coaching as he gets foot in mouth alot, Minichillo said when asked about Johns, Freddy and Fitzgibbon and who should get the gig, he replied why not all 3! That could be the trick to getting the best from Johns.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 6:52am
      BennO said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      I’m QLDer so I can’t believe I’m about to suggest something constructive on this page but maybe he could run the water like Alf. He could give messages from the coach but also read the game from the field and contribute his own thoughts, like run at that bloke with the broken shoulder.

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 7:45am
        Red Kev said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

        That sounds like a blooming genius move…NSW won’t do it.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 9:07am
        spruce moose said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        That’s exactly what he should be doing.

        But Channel 9 pay him more.

        • July 14th 2017 @ 9:16am
          nopuritan said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          If he got the waterboy gig he would keep his contract with Channel NIne. They would just mic him up.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 9:34am
            spruce moose said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

            Yep, and someone in the Queensland coaching box will then be listening to the commentary. Unlikely he’ll be miked up for fear of it screwing up.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 11:22am
              Andrew said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

              Walkers on, Walkers on!

    • July 14th 2017 @ 6:54am
      TSR said | July 14th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      You’ve outlined the exact reasons he shouldn’t do it. He suffers from depression and he has raised concerns about his ability to handle the pressure.

      And yet, you couldn’t help yourself and ran the article to get your clicks/views up. Apparently we still don’t get it on depression.

      • Columnist

        July 14th 2017 @ 12:26pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        Comments don’t get more offensive or insulting than that. Well done.

        • July 14th 2017 @ 1:43pm
          Christo the Daddyo said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

          Er, what? Valid point from TSR I thought.

          • Columnist

            July 14th 2017 @ 1:48pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Suggesting I “couldn’t help myself” and somewhat irresponsibly ran the article for clicks/views is pretty offensive.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 2:23pm
              TSR said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

              Ryan – I will accept that it is unfair that I have singled you out when it is a dialogue actively being pursued by lots of journalists. In that context, to try and call 1 person to account is not fair on you. For that I apologise as I acknowledge I am not going to start a crusade against everyone promoting Johns to be coach. But I fail to see how my comment can be offensive to you. Clearly you considered the fact that the move may not be in his interests but you ran it anyway. So you either didn’t care enough not to, in which case you need to stand by that, or you displayed a lack of understanding of the implications of what you are suggesting – as per my last line. How can you be offended? You either stand by what you wrote or you shouldn’t have published it.

              • Columnist

                July 14th 2017 @ 2:36pm
                Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

                Hey TSR,

                I do stand behind what I wrote, and more than happy to publish it.

                I think Johns should be approached to take the job. However, if he is serious that the reason he wouldn’t take it is because of the pressure that comes with it, then the conversation should end there. But at present, the ‘pressure’ is an assumption of why Joey doesn’t want it, rather than fact. The only reference to pressure was a throwaway line with a cheesy grin. If it’s something more serious than that, then I reiterate that the conversation should end there.

                And no need for apologies, it’s all good. I was probably being overly-sensitive.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 9:58pm
            Swanny said | July 14th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

            Well said t s r

        • July 14th 2017 @ 5:06pm
          qwetzen said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

          But it’s OK for you to denigrate Paul Vautin’s intelligence.

          • Columnist

            July 14th 2017 @ 5:38pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

            How did I denigrate his intelligence? I did nothing of the sort. I was merely suggesting that no one in their right mind would put Fatty in the same class as Parkinson when it comes to interviewing/asking questions, yet he he nailed the situation perfectly. If anything, I was giving him a compliment.

          • July 14th 2017 @ 7:06pm
            Big Daddy said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

            Paul vautin denigrates Paul vautins intelligence.

    • Roar Guru

      July 14th 2017 @ 7:04am
      The Barry said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Former Origin legend. Inspirational Blues captain. Media commentator. Some part time coaching work in assistant roles.

      Is that Joey’s resume or Laurie Daley’s?

      I don’t think it’s a lay down misere that he would be successful in the job just because he was or is a passionate Blues man. haven’t we just had five years of that?

      • July 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm
        Ryan O'Connell said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        Laurie Daley was a great player, but I don’t think he was ever considered ‘the brain’ that Joey Johns is.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm
        doogs said | July 14th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

        I agree with you The Barry. When Daley was picked I felt he was perfect. I am a QLDer and think he is an absolute legend. In terms of passion….does anybody remember how he played. Plus from what I understand he is a champion bloke. I think NSW supporters are being incredibly harsh on their own. This really is a great QLD Team. It must drive NSW crazy to watch the spine of Slater, Cronk and Smith combining like last night. IMHO QLD will pretty much lose their legends either next year or the year after. NSW will have a new coach and have a much stronger chance of winning and people will say it’s because of the new coach. I’ve loved this QLD dynasty. Particularly this year. The Blues will get their chance. In the meantime, support your team NSW through thick and thin because I am sure they are trying

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