Johnathan Thurston got a lot of love on his farewell tour. Picutre: Craig Golding/AAP
Johnathan Thurston got a lot of love on his farewell tour. Picutre: Craig Golding/AAP

Immortal’s call to bring back the biff

RUGBY league Immortal Andrew Johns has called for hugs and joking after the game to be replaced with some good old-fashioned feuding.

The history of rugby league is littered with old-school battles. State of Origin, in particular, seems to bring out the biff.

There was Wally Lewis against Mark Geyer in Origin, the "Cattledog call" that Johns himself was at the centre of, Paul Harragon against Mark Carroll, Wendell Sailor and Adam MacDougall, Mick Ennis v Nathan Hindmarsh and countless others.

While the handshakes are a key component of sportsmanship, Johns has drawn a line with the players hugging, joking and fraternising before and after games.

The Rabbitohs' Cody Walker and Broncoss Tom Dearden post-match on Thursday night.
The Rabbitohs' Cody Walker and Broncoss Tom Dearden post-match on Thursday night.

Speaking on Wide World of Sports show Immortal Behaviour, Johns said he had never wanted to be too friendly with opposition players.

"I see players before the game shaking hands, laughing and joking. Hang on you're going out there to bash each other," he said.

"I can remember when I was playing - myself and Brad Fittler are really close (but) I never talked to him during the year.

"If I'd see him at a game, at the toss of the coin, I'd say 'good luck' and that was it. There'd be no handshakes, no pats on the backside. There's too much love in the game - there's got to be more hate."

He added that if losing players were able to smile and laugh after games, they hadn't left it all out on the field.

"I remember when I first started playing first grade and our coach sat me down and said, 'Look if you're playing against one of your best mates I don't mind you shaking hands and having a chat, but if we get beat you shake hands and you go off,'" Johns said.

"I got hammered for being a bad sport because when we'd get beat I wouldn't want to talk to the media. I wouldn't want to chat to players. I'd shake their hands and then get off the field."

News Corp Australia


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