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backing of Bennett
Andrew Johns got the backing of Australia coach Wayne Bennett to take up his short-term stint in England, the player revealed on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old Newcastle Knights scrum-half, widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the modern game, has joined Warrington for the last six weeks of the engage Super League season and said he will put club before country.
Australia?s opening Gillette Tri-Nations match against New Zealand in Sydney on October 15 clashes with the Super League Grand Final and, if the Wolves reach Old Trafford, Johns is prepared to temporarily turn his back on his country.
?I take great pride in playing for Australia and I always love touring England,? said Johns, who has been named in Bennett?s initial train-on squad.
?The crowds are great and the football is really challenging. I spoke to Wayne Bennett about it before I came and he was really positive about the opportunity.
?What would he rather me do, come over here and stay match-hardened or have five weeks to myself over there where who knows what I?d be up to? It?s better to come over here and keep playing.?
Johns, who has won 18 caps and was a member of the Kangaroos? World Cup-winning teams of 1995 and 2000, trained with Warrington for the first time today (Wednesday) and will go straight into the team for Saturday?s crucial home game with champions Leeds, which is a guaranteed 13,600 sell-out.
The Wolves, a point behind third-placed Bradford, need victory to keep alive their hopes of a home tie in the play-offs.
Warrington coach Paul Cullen confirmed the former Test skipper would start the game alongside club captain Lee Briers, with fellow Australian Nathan Wood almost certain to be relegated to the bench despite a man-of-the-match performance in Sunday?s 32-22 win over Salford.
Johns suffered a shin injury in his last match of the NRL season with Newcastle on Sunday but insists there are no doubts over his fitness.
?I just copped a knee to the shin,? he said.
?It was a soft-tissue injury. I trained this morning (Wednesday) and did an hour?s ball work and there were no problems. I could play now if I had to.
?Everything went like clockwork in training. I was surprised how crisp the ball work was. They seem to play a very similar style to the way we play at Newcastle.
?It will be a matter of getting to know the calls. The hardest bit will be forming a combination with Lee.
?It?s all about sharing the ball around and working together but it worked well in training and I don?t think it will be a problem on Saturday night.
?It was great meeting all the players today (Wednesday). I didn?t understand everyone but I am sure I will get to know everyone?s name over the next couple of days. I?m really excited about playing on Saturday.?
Warrington are thought to be paying Johns around ?10,000 a match but Cullen defended the club?s decision to sign the player on a contract that could last as little as three matches.
?The rules are crystal clear,? he said.
?We?ve been smart enough to get in there first and do it. We?ve been followed by a number of senior clubs. I defy anyone to tell me it?s not right having Andrew Johns playing in Super League.?
Since the move, brokered by club director Simon Moran during a casual chat with Johns? manager at the first cricket Test at Lord?s, was announced, Bradford have signed Great Britain forward Adrian Morley and Hull have recruited New Zealand international Sione Faumuina, also on short-term deals.
Johns added: ?There?s two other guys come over as well. I don?t know if they?re going to change the rules or not but as long as there are good players coming over it?s good for Super League.?
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this article.