Last Thursday, members of Raglan Junior Rugby’s eighth grade were treated to a surprise visit from Australian rugby league legend, Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns.
Commentating at the ANZAC test held at Eden Park on Friday, Johns spent his days leading up to the match relaxing and surfing in Raglan.
Staying at Whale Bay with friends John and Mel Clapham, Johns visited the couple’s son Tana’s rugby training as a way of giving back after thoroughly enjoying his stay.
“I think the coaches and parents were a bit more blown away, knowing who he was, ” said John Clapham.
Former captain of the Newcastle Knights, Johns retired in 2007 at a young 32 years old after a serious neck injury .
In 2008, to celebrate 100 years of the game, the Australian Rugby League named a fictional ‘Team of the Century’ with Johns at halfback — recognising him as one of the best to ever fill that position.
Johns has also won the Rugby League World Golden Boot Award twice, a feat rivaled only recently by Darren Lockyer.
An avid surfer, Johns was particularly thrilled that he got some great surf during his stay. “He surfs really good, I think some of the guys that were out with him were a bit surprised that he surfed so well,” said Clapham.
Based in Australia, Johns has been visiting New Zealand recently to fulfill his contract as the new skills coach for the Warriors.
After Johns’ brief stay Clapham reckons, “he really loves it here and thinks it’s a beautiful place, we’ll definitely be seeing him here again soon.”