Johns factor puts Manly in box seat

Tim Prentice Columnist

By Tim Prentice, Tim Prentice is a Roar Expert

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    Andrew Johns produced memorable moments in the Newcastle Knights' best matches. (AAP Image/Action Photographics/Grant Trouville)

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    While the rugby league world awaits news on Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau’s futures back in the fold, Manly Warringah has been working on a deal of its own that could snare the 2013 premiership.

    Any day now the Sea Eagles will announce the addition of Andrew Johns to their coaching staff, and I believe it could turn out to be one of the club’s most important signings in its history.

    I hear that league’s newest immortal will be working closely with the Manly club and in particular, improving the skills set of exciting young halves combination, Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran.

    After a stellar, premiership-winning debut season in 2011, Cherry-Evans was good but not great in 2012 and having Joey in his ear on a regular basis will do him a power of good. His loose ends will become polished, silky. His team direction better plotted and more forceful.

    The half-back’s often streaky kicking game should develop more variety and his linkage plays with Foran and fullback Brett Stewart have the potential to unlock the tightest defences in the league.

    Foran, a Kiwi international, is rated by many to be the most consistent number six in the comp and with specialist tips from Johns he, too, could achieve as lofty a rating as that enjoyed by code benchmarks such as Thurston, Slater and Smith.

    Eagles’ fans should get very excited when the Johns addition to the coaching staff becomes reality.

    Joey will be able to provide a guile and sense of spontaneity that even Geoff Toovey, one of the world’s best halfbacks in his day, cannot hope to pull from his bag of tricks.

    And I hear that his services will be exclusive to Manly. No rival club – not even his alma mater Newcastle – will be able to call up A. Johns for specialist coaching. He’ll be seen in maroon and white gear, nothing else.

    I can picture the Johns-inspired halves engineering try after try for Manly, even from the opening game. Banana kicks, grubbers, inside balls, double pumps, dummies – who could honestly predict what Cherry and Foz will come up with on any given play?

    Head coach Toovey will grant them a licence to be as inventive as possible, while adhering to his overall game plan.

    Try merchant Stewart, if he can steer clear of injury, might be an excellent bet to finish as the leading try-getter in 2013 and the Eagles, for that matter, might be well worth an early flutter to go all the way and claim the title.

    Manly finished one game shy of the grand final this past season. TAB Sportsbet currently has them listed at $8.

    The Johns factor is going to have considerable influence on how Manly performs next season.
    Geoff Toovey did exceptionally well in his debut season as senior coach, and as Des Hasler’s hastily appointed successor.

    Partnered by Johns and the respected Brad Arthur, Toovey could achieve the height of heights in just his second year at the helm.

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    The Crowd Says (35)

    • November 6th 2012 @ 7:36am
      Robert said | November 6th 2012 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      I hope you are right Tim,but depth is a worry and an ageing forward pack.Hopefully Tooves gives Buhrer some more game time once he recovers from his off season injury

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    • November 6th 2012 @ 7:51am
      Manly Man said | November 6th 2012 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Let’s just hope he doesn’t teach them what to do off the field. I think he will be good for Manly as long as we keep our halves.

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      • Columnist

        November 6th 2012 @ 7:57am
        Tim Prentice said | November 6th 2012 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        The halves are on long term deals, at least the administration had the good sense to lock them up.
        You, Manly Man, should have a most enjoyable season. Johns will add something very special.
        I think the Eagles have the depth to make a huge impression.
        Buehrer will get lots of game time and there are some terrific kids on the rise.

    • November 6th 2012 @ 8:25am
      Roarsome said | November 6th 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      The immortal status is right up there with Leagues most overrated player. Both are selected by former/current players and run by a magazine. In saying that, Johns should be a great mentor for the young halves at Manly. Would this be an exclusive position? I know he already works with several halves at different clubs. That does speak volumes about the man. There’s no pressure for him to coach and no one coaches for the money, unless you work for Tinkler. Perhaps this is just Johns giving back to the game that gave him so much.

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      • Columnist

        November 6th 2012 @ 8:33am
        Tim Prentice said | November 6th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Yes, it will be an exclusive deal.

      • November 8th 2012 @ 1:40pm
        mushi said | November 8th 2012 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

        If you’re working with tinkler for the money it is probably time to find a new boss

    • November 6th 2012 @ 9:52am
      Mals said | November 6th 2012 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      Like Big Kev, I’m excited! Manly have recruited some boom juniors too – Michael Chee Kam, Jacob Gagan, Peta Hiku & Ligi Sao.

      Roll on season 2013!!

      • November 6th 2012 @ 11:57am
        Campaign to restore Melbourne's Premierships said | November 6th 2012 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        I don’t know what there is to get so excited about. Johns isn’t exactly well known for his coaching ability and he will only be taking an assisting role anyway. If they had signed a Bellamy or a Hasler or even McGuire then I would say different, but Joey won’t win them a premiership. Now can we have ours back please ?

        • November 6th 2012 @ 12:26pm
          Mals said | November 6th 2012 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          I doubt you actually read the article, why bother commenting? When Johns worked with Manly’s halves in 2011 they won the title. Johns didn’t work with them in 2012.

          Your organisation was fund guilty of systematic cheating. You won’t be getting the Premierships back. Move on & enjoy the one you won this year.

          • November 9th 2012 @ 12:08am
            Steve Merry said | November 9th 2012 @ 12:08am | ! Report

            I’m with you Campaign, what gallop did to you guys was over the top and it needs putting right.

    • November 6th 2012 @ 12:07pm
      Bearfax said | November 6th 2012 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

      Johns is being recruited to not only polish up the skills of Cherry-Evans and Foran but also to assist with Manly’s biggest recruitment drive in many years. But while other clubs have been paying out big percentages of their salary cap for high profile players, Manly have been quietly securing a talented group of low cost journeymen mainly for the forwards aged between 23-28 years and a group of the cream of the junior competitions aged between 18-21 years. So far that totals about thirteen new faces in the Manly club and its hoped that Johns will assist in developing the skills of these youngsters especially in the backs where there are some very talented young kids waiting for their chance to shine.

      Manly for years has struggled to maintain some strong junior teams. Their NYC and NSW Cup sides were near the bottom of their respective competitions this year. Together with some very talented kids from SG Ball, Manly should next year be well serviced with back up players of quality across the range of positions and its likely more than a few will appear in Manly’s first grade side next year covering injury and an aging forward line up.

      • November 6th 2012 @ 12:52pm
        sean maguire said | November 6th 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Yeah it sounds pretty exciting Bearfax. I was a bit worried about next year but its looking promising even if I’m not expecting a premiership.

        • November 8th 2012 @ 3:54am
          The Link said | November 8th 2012 @ 3:54am | ! Report

          Sure, Manly has had a lean couple of years in NYC and NSW Cup but they were both NYC minor premiers and QLD Cup premiers in 2009.

          Swings and roundabouts.

          • November 8th 2012 @ 7:35am
            Bearfax said | November 8th 2012 @ 7:35am | ! Report

            I wasn’t suggesting that Manly haven’t been successful at any time in the juniors. Its just in general terms Manly has tended to be at the bottom end of junior comps over the years, 2009-10 were unusual years in that they had what was described by the club as something similar to when Menzies, Gartner, Kosef etc all appeared at once in the early 90s. 2009 was when Buhrer, Hodkinson, Cherry-Evans, Foran, Lussick, Oldfield, Hopoate were all coming through at the same time… a rare event in Manly’s history. But generally, unless Manly have a decent recruitment drive, they have no chance of competing with the likes of Brisbane, Parramatta, Wests-Balmain Canterbury, St George Illawarra, Newcastle, Penrith who have much greater demographics and therefore juniors to choose from.

            What Manly seem to have learned, is that given they are no longer one of the ‘money’ teams in the comp, they have to be far more careful with their salary cap dollar. They have learned from Melbourne in particular, that the best way to recruit these days is not to waste your money on high profile players, except the exceptional and essential ones you’ve brought through the ranks, but to look for top ranking juniors and ensure you have a well structured development plan for them. Manly have been doing this for almost the past 15 years (contrary to what the ill informed such as Oikee would have you believe).

            Interesting that Manly is now one of the clubs that are harvested of their better top grade players now, rather than the other way back in the 70s and 80s. Just in the past two years they’ve lost the Lussick brother, Hopoate brothers, Oldfield, Whare, Harrison, Hodkinson, Tony Williams, Drinkwater, Robinson etc many because they could not compete with the monies being offered elsewhere. So Manly this year are continuing their strategy of late of replenishing their junior stocks rather than seek high profile replacements and bring in people like Johns and earlier ‘Blocker’ to upskill them.

    • November 6th 2012 @ 1:12pm
      Jay said | November 6th 2012 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

      Great players don’t necessarily make great coaches. If i have my choice for a halves coach (and Im a Kinghts fan) it would have to be Matty Johns. Best example is Cooper Cronk – spent one off season with him after Orford has left and Melbourne have never looked back.

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