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Andrew Johns and Timana Tahu release joint statement
NSW assistant coach Andrew Johns has today talked with Timana Tahu about the incident that led the NSW winger to leave the team camp yesterday.
Johns today publicly apologised for comments he made that caused offence to Tahu before the pair issued the following joint statement:
"Joey said something which he thought was just some banter amongst the boys that I took offence to" Tahu said.
"It is something I feel strongly about. To sacrifice my NSW Origin jumper and to give up the chance of bringing the trophy back to NSW is obviously something I gave a lot of thought to."
"But I felt I had to make a statement that this sort of behaviour in any environment is unacceptable and, as a senior player, I had to show that."
"The fact that it came from someone on the coaching staff that is highly respected in the game and has such influence in rugby league, and someone I have known for a long time, made it more hurtful."
"We had a good talk over the phone today and we were able to explain each other's feelings. It has naturally devastated me that this has happened. I am still churned up inside, but I am looking forward to something positive coming out of this."
"If what eventuates is not just Joey but others becoming more aware of the need to show respect for different cultures then I feel the stand I have taken will be worthwhile."
Johns added: "I said something without thinking which I deeply regret. It wasn't directed towards Timana but I now realise how Timana would take offence to it."
"It wasn't said with any malice but it was ignorant and I realise how inappropriate it was and that it was not acceptable."
"I have learned a massive lesson from this and I am devastated that it caused Timana to give up his Origin jersey."
"I am deeply sorry I have hurt Timana, who is someone I have always had a lot of respect for, and his family, too."
"I can't apologise strongly enough. Thankfully I was able to relay that to him today and I am glad we were able to talk."
"I didn't realise until then how ignorant I was and I want to make that point to him when I get the chance to apologise to Timana in person."
"I look forward to sitting down with Timana and learning from him what is acceptable when it comes to sensitive issues such as this. Like many people, I have a lot to learn."