When Joey scored 23 points and claimed Man of the Match on debut, Matt Rodwell watched from the stands.
With a busted ACL, Rodwell knew his time at the Knights was up.
The new kid on the scene had made his mark in first grade in a brilliant 80-minute passage against South Sydney.
Really tough thing to do, watch those Johns boys come on. I knew my future wasn’t at the Knights
The funny thing is, if Rodwell wasn’t sidelined, it would’ve been him pulling the strings against the Rabbitohs after being guaranteed he was the first choice No.7 to start the 1994 season.
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“I went into the 94-off-season knowing the Johns boys were breathing down my neck and I not only had to train exceptionally well but be ready,” Rodwell told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I thought my off-season in 94 was a s strong as ever. I was training with Matthew. We were the six and seven identified for that season and we were playing our last trial game against Cronulla.
“To ease some pressure (coach) David Waite had a quiet word to me. He said; ‘I want to give you some reassurance you’re going to get the halfback role for round one. Unfortunately for me, Andrew Ettingshausen tackled me and I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament. I was gone a week before the season proper. Andrew Johns is then elevated to debut against South Sydney and the rest is history.”
While he had 44 top grade games to his name, a 1992 Dally M Rookie of the Year award and Norwich Rising Star award, Rodwell didn’t feature in first grade at all that season.
“I was never going to hold back Andrew Johns,” Rodwell continued.
“That’s the way he got his stat. I might’ve delayed it a little bit had I not been injured and started the season but he was always going to burst onto the scene.
“I watched them play throughout 94, which was a really tough thing to do, watch those Johns boys come on. I knew my future wasn’t at the Knights.”
Johns had firm hold of the No.7 jumper but Rodwell was offered a deal to stay at the Knights.
Had he stayed, he’d be playing second fiddle and he wanted to play regular first grade.
When Bob Fulton phoned, attempting to lure him to Manly, it was a tempting offer but one he couldn’t take up.
The red and blue meant too much to him and the Clubs hated each other.
“The Knights absolutely attempted to retain my services,” Rodwell said.
“I had Bob Fulton in my ear to go and play at Manly as well. His view was to partner up with either Cliff Lyons of Geoff Toovey at the scrum base. I was really tempted by that offer but what actually deterred me was the hate the Knights had for Manly.
“I thought, ‘how uncomfortable would it be that a Knights player would go play for Manly?’
“The fan banter that would come back at me. I had doubts about whether that would be the right move.”
Instead, he ventured to the Western Reds in 1995.