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Newcastle?s premiership winning captain Andrew Johns is still yet to finalise his future with the Newcastle Knights and as the season draws nearer, speculation about Johns career options should he not re-sign with the Knights is beginning to intensify.
Johns would command a minimum $500,000 per season and with the Knights also looking to secure the services of Ben Kennedy and Timana Tahu, the club has some hard decisions to make about who stays and who goes. Should the club wish to keep all three, their combined wage would exceed a third of the $3.25 million dollar cap and the host of young talent they have in the junior ranks could be plundered by rich Sydney clubs who place little emphasis on developing their own juniors.
As for Johns, he has several options. The first would be to re-sign with the Knights and see out his career in Newcastle but his recent injury problems would be of major concern to the Knights as he has missed their last two finals campaigns through serious injury which has seen the Knights premiership aspirations go up in smoke as soon as Johns was ruled out.
Johns could take up a lucrative option to finish his career in England with a rich Super League club who could afford to pay him $1 million every year and his signature would be a major coup for the game in the U.K and would no doubt put thousands of bums on seats so it would definitely be money well spent.
The final option would be to sign with Rugby Union and with their windfall from the recent Rugby World Cup and the form of George Gregan not what it should be, Rugby could pose the biggest threat to keep Johns in the game until he retires. It?s no secret Johns was highly impressed by the success and international exposure of the RWC and a player of his stature would love nothing more to shine on the world stage and showcase his talents to a truly global audience. With Rugby, Johns would not be exposed to the week in, week out pounding he gets in League but it would be a cushy retirement option that would earn him a sizeable nest egg and it may be just too hard to pass up an offer like that.
The loss of Johns to Union would be a major blow to the game but it has to be remembered that Johns is entering the twilight of his career and his injuries are starting to catch up with him so what price to do you put on a player who is on the precipice of his prime and twilight? In time, we?ll know one way or the other but whatever Johns does, he has given us so many highlights on the field that season 2004 should be enjoyed as much as Steve Waugh?s farewell test series. He is that good.