“A leader is someone who drags people with them, not stands behind pushing them.”
It’s a powerful statement.
The thought-provoking phrase was used by former Knights premiership winner Daniel Abraham when summing up the leadership of Andrew Johns.
But that didn’t stop the eighth immortal from giving his teammates an all mighty spray when warranted.
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Abraham wasn’t on the receiving end of too many. He learnt fast after copping a mouth full in his rookie season.
On this day, Abraham attempted a chip and chase against the Bulldogs.
Johns was filthy.
“It must have been in the 2000 season. I played fullback, we played Canterbury, for some reason we got the ball and I put a chip and chase in,” Abraham told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I never did a chip and chase in my life. I think I’ve done two in my whole career and both were a failure.
“I chip and chased, and it went straight to Rod Silva, (who) was playing fullback.
“Joey gave me a huge mouthful.”
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A little rattled, Johns’ older brother Matthew put a young Abraham’s mind at ease.
“Matty Johns said to me on the bus; ‘don’t ever change, don’t listen to him. He gets annoyed when things don’t go his way but, don’t ever change, just keep playing that style of footy,” Abraham said.
Playing alongside Johns, expectations were at a premium.
That was club wide.
Abraham said Johns set the standard and demanded his teammates kept up.
“Back in those days that’s when you knew you were a part of the team. If you didn’t get a spray, he probably didn’t like you,” he said.
“He (Andrew Johns) wore his heart on his sleeve, he played to win there’s no two ways about it.
“He wasn’t out there for any other reason than to win.
“What he expected of others was no more than himself.”
Confessing he was never one to respond well to a spray, Abraham showed an admiration for Johns as he was a special talent and different from the rest.
“If you applied yourself the way he used to towards the game, you know his desire for perfection,” he said.
“He was no stronger on anyone else than he was on himself. What he expected of others, was no more than himself.”