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Two big stars up for grabs
Andrew Johns
08:30 AEST Thu Jul 12 2012

Former Australia, New South Wales and Newcastle Knights champion halfback Andrew Johns is part of the Wide World of Sport commentary team and he will write exclusively for us in 2012.
Andrew Johns
  Have your say on Luke Lewis's move.

I'm not sure what is happening out at Penrith, but the Panthers seem to be having some issues with their players. It was a real shame to see Luke Lewis ask for his contract to end two years early. When I look back on my career one of the things I am most proud of is that I played with the one club. It doesn't happen very often these days, with players often going to many different clubs, for various reasons.

It was mentioned that Lewis considered quitting the game at one point and I remember having those thoughts myself at times. Rugby league is a tough sport and being able to compete at the highest level for a long time is a hard slog. Lewis is a Penrith junior who won a premiership with the club along with representing his state and country while playing for the Panthers. He is the only member of the 2003 premiership-winning side still playing at the club. He is 28-years old, relatively injury free and would be a great signing.

If I was in charge of recruitment at any club, I'd have the cheque book out right now, but before I called Luke Lewis' manager I'd dial Khoder Nasser's number. Nasser is Sonny Bill Williams' manager and I'd be keen to see if he really was committed to Sydney Roosters. A lot of people have been critical of Nasser and the way he has managed Williams, but in reality, his job is to squeeze every cent out of a career which will be relatively short. Williams is a superb athlete and earns every cent Nasser can find for him.

Williams will be a great asset for any club, he is simply that good. Any criticism of his boxing interests should be taken into context. At least when he's spending his downtime preparing for a fight, you know he's taking good care of his fitness. A lot of players spend their time off on the lounge playing video games. From what I've seen of his fights so far, you don't have to worry about him having his head knocked off in the ring.

If Williams leaves rugby league and goes back to union to prepare for the next Rugby World Cup, he could be setting a path for many players to follow. Playing both games during a career can only increase a player's skill levels. If a club can accommodate a player and he adds to their strengths, then I see no reason why not. The players themselves don't mind – they are all aware of how limited their time at the top is and are happy for others to be making the most out of playing professional sport of any variety.

State of Origin produced another agonising series loss to Queensland this year, with the Blues going down by one point in the decider in Brisbane. I think New South Wales are still building their combinations and a big factor in losing the decider was the excellent completion rate of the Queensland side. When Ricky Stuart injected Tony Williams into the game at about the 30 minute mark, the Blues were in possession and had good field position. Suddenly they dropped the ball and Queensland seemed to have it for the rest of the half.

I think the Blues went to Williams too often and combined with the increased defensive workload, his impact was limited. Manly show each week that the best way to use Williams is sparingly and often as a decoy. The Queensland defence was able to focus in on Williams, because they knew he'd be getting the ball almost every time. These are lessons that will be learnt and lead to improvements next year.

Both teams deserve the utmost praise for the efforts they produced right through the series. State of Origin is well and truly alive and is the pinnacle of our sport. Next year I think I might tip Queensland. I'll try anything to help the Blues across the line.


Who do you think will sign Luke Lewis for next season?
Will Sonny Bill Williams definitely be a Rooster in 2013?
Do you agree that movement between union and league could improve players?
Did NSW overuse Tony Williams in Origin III?

User comments
I love NRL!!! Lol
i support 100% what andrew jone saying if you got talent to play both codes why not,its like moving from one work place to another,we have to remember when this talented kid growing up it wasnt you who transporting them from every weekends game its their families at the end of the day its mostly the family decision finalise everything thru their managers....we have to be open minded life is too short..
i think the way public and the bulldog club handle sbw case its really sad,firstly bulldog should get over it they got $750,000 from him and they still not satisfy how unprofessional is that, and the public you got choices to watch him or not at the end of the day he got bills to pay and try to prepare his future financially, when we look around us a lot of past professional players they struggle financially because of the way they were been ill treated by there managers or club i do believe SBW and his manager are doin fine........
Panic stations for the penrith panthers Lewis gone Jennings next
unfortunately its a business these days and "loyalty" is thrown out the window from both parties. if you have the talent like sbw has then why not negotiate on your terms? after all, he is the talent. i say good luck to him. Yeah he left the game and is chasing contracts where ever the coin is but what about players jumping from club to club for better contracts?... Chris Sandow.... at least SBW is still earning his money with his performances
i think the roosters buying SBW is the biggest mistake its a usless buy i mean he will be good for a season or two then he will leave Roosters a spending way too much miney on a player that will not win the Roosters the premiership. its also stupid letting him box i understand his actually pretty good at boxing but if he does get knocked out which lets face it is a huge posssobilitie then he is out for a good week or two and the roosters loss alot of money straight awy
At least Andrew has addressed a point that others have glossed over but I still disagree with his conclusions. (refering to the notion that his stay back in league will be a short one before going back to Union again) If Sonny is to come back, he HAS to sign a deal of at LEAST a few years. None of this coming back to League for a cup o coffee and then *** off back to Union to play in their world cup. He should make a choice. Commit to Union and play in their world cup or commit to league and prove this is serious and not a silly gimmick.
If and I do say if Ricky Stuart decides to coach at club level next year. Two people come to mind for replacing him. Andrew Johns should be a contender. Ok he hasn't really coach and at top level, but a guy revolutions listed the half back role. He has agood footy brain. The other would be Laurie Daley. Has the experience to coach.
Everyone is totally p'd off with the way SBW left the Bulldogs. It would be an interesting exercise to see how many players were told mid season or mid contract to find another club. Why expect loyalty from players when its not reciprocated.
You are a clown macca re salary cap. Those days are over alright mate who do you support? Melbourne?


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