Andrew Johns is a great of the game. An Immortal.
The eighth rugby league Immortal. But even the freakishly talented must work hard.
Kurt Gidley witnessed Johns' brilliance first-hand.
The man nicknamed 'Joey' was a teammate of Gidley's at the Newcastle Knights.
While Johns had already established himself as a great of the game by the time Gidley came into grade in 2001, the halfback was still tweaking his game.
Gidley witnessed Johns' genius every day.
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Even away from the team environment.
Sharing his story on the Our Town Our Team podcast, Gidley peeled back the curtain on the commitment Johns showed to his game and revealed how the halfback help develop him into a first grader.
"I had some really good mentors that took me under their wing," Gidley told the podcast.
"Robbie O'Davis was a good one for fullback, Joey would text me on our days off and ask me to go down to an oval in South Newcastle.
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"He'd have all the hats set out. It was basically just like a one on one training session with him.
"He was already doing that himself to improve his own game and keep evolving as a player.
" ... this was early to mid-2000s, Joey would be down Townson Oval because that was the closest oval to his house near the beach," Gidley said.
"He'd have hats set out and he'd be doing fitness drills and footwork and kicking drills and being the younger brother of Matt, he could see something in me
"My wanting to improve myself as a player. He knew I was always willing to work hard and he probably wanted a training partner."
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Even in retirement, Johns' abilities was something to marvel at.
As a former captain of the NSW Origin side, Gidley recalls having Johns on the Blues coaching staff and leaving the team gobsmacked.
"He was able to see things unfold a fraction before everyone else," Gidley explained.
"I was always mesmerised by how lite his footwork was.
"Even when he was assistant coach for NSW. He'd been retired for a number of years and he was still mesmerising.
"In Origin camp he was putting blokes through holes and he was retired for three years."
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