He is an NRL Immortal, so being seen as an intimidating figure is something Andrew Johns is probably use to.
For nib Newcastle Knights rising star Pasami Saulo, the first time he met Johns is a moment he’d rather forget.
The Knights were playing the Warriors and the forward was just a teen playing touch with his friends at the base of the supporter’s hill.
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The players had just arrived at the ground and were signing autographs as they walked in.
Saulo spotted Johns and it was a moment he’d love to have back.
“I was with my family, I was just a young kid and I didn’t bother watching the footy but I went out and played touch with the other kids at the bottom of the hill,” Saulo told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“The big boys came in the front gates, everyone was getting autographs and I remember getting a couple off players but then I saw Andrew Johns.
“I was with my Aunty, I sort of went to him and I was scared and I just ran off and my Aunty was wondering where I went.”
His second encounter with the man nicknamed Joey was much more civil.
Johns was a mentor for the Under 18s New South Wales Blues squad which Saulo was part of.
Hearing from the former No.7 and the overall experience of playing Origin is something Saulo will never forget.
“I met him when I did an Origin training session for development, I think a year or two ago,” Saulo added.
“He was cool. The atmosphere, it was unbelievable.”
While rugby league is his career, it’s also a passion.
His time with both the Australian Schoolboys and Under 18s NSW camps are times he’ll cherish forever.
“They were the best experiences I’ve ever had I reckon,” Saulo added.
“A couple of boys I played Harold Matts with are there, and it’s good to have them still around.
“The best camp was the Australian Schoolboys, two weeks away with mates who I now call my brothers. We had a closer bond than ever.”
Since the signing of Origin prop David Klemmer, big expectations are on the Knights to perform.
Saulo is one of the youngest players on this Knights roster and is seeing the more experienced players setting the standard in 2019.
“Yeah, it’s pretty crazy, we’ve all set a standard and we have to keep rising above it,” Saulo explained.
“The most vocal probably would be Aidan Guerra.
“He’s always up me and tipping me on standing up strong and if I’m feeling down lean on another brother.”