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5 days ago
Australian and NSW skipper Andrew Johns has declared his commitment to rugby league's State of Origin series and said his public fall-out with coach Phil Gould stemmed from their mutual passion for the game.
At a NSW team meeting last week Gould reportedly upset Johns with comments he made in front of the team, which followed the coach criticising his halfback's form in his newspaper column.
The pair were photographed arguing outside an Origin team lunch.
But Johns has denied he was contemplating pulling out of the Origin series.
"Playing for the Blues and winning an Origin series offers a player enormous satisfaction, achievement and pride. This year will be no different to others," Johns said in his statement.
The Newcastle skipper said he and Gould's "differing opinions" were part of the healthy relationship between player and coach.
"Whatever people want to draw from our conversation at an Origin squad gathering last week ignores the fact that Gus and I have passionate views on many aspects of the game but they are always in the best interests of the team".
Gould, who has had a long-running battle with News Limited journalists and almost quit the NSW post earlier this year, reaffirmed Johns would captain the team in game one.
"It's going to be a fairly ordinary Origin campaign for us if everywhere we go and everything we do we've got to contend with that there's going to be cameras on us and people wanting to take pot-shots at what we do," Gould told Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Show.
"At the moment we're being criticised by everyone in NSW and everyone in Queensland ... all we're trying to do is get 17 fit and committed players to take on Queensland come Origin time."