MANY years ago, when Andrew Johns was at the peak of his powers and unquestionably the No.1 superstar in rugby league, the Newcastle Knights were passing through an airport after a big win on the road.
Players, after a night of celebrations, were in a tired and emotional state, and nobody was attracting more attention for loose behaviour than Johns.
A very senior Newcastle executive beckoned the team captain over and advised him to tone it down a bit.
Without blinking an eye, Johns replied: "What are ya gonna do about it?" He then suggested that if the official didn't like it, he should consider picking the reserve-grade halfback for Newcastle's next game.
With that Joey wandered off, a law unto himself, bigger than the game, let alone his club.
After Johns's comments this week about Wests Tigers playmaker Luke Brooks, I find myself asking the same question of the Knights' current management.
What are ya gonna do about it?
My guess is not much, if anything at all.
For the third time in the space of seven months, Johns has made public comments about matters involving the Knights that would appear at best naive, at worst completely inappropriate.
Last November, when the Knights were in the market for a playmaker after Mitchell Pearce's surprise exit to join Catalans Dragons, Johns told Channel Nine's Danny Weidler that he would "love" to work with the enigmatic Brooks, adding: "He looks like he needs a change, and getting out of Sydney would be good for him".
The only issue was that Brooks was contracted until the end of next season to the Tigers, who had already publicly stated they had no intention of releasing him.
A few months later, when Knights forward Mitch Barnett was sent off for a stray elbow on a Penrith opponent, Joey lashed him for "moments of madness".
"He has impulsive moments and just does the most stupid things," he told the Sunday Footy Show.
"You can't defend it. It's just inexcusable."
This was before Barnett had appeared at the judiciary, and less than 24 hours after Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien declared: "I tell you what Mitch doesn't need, it's me coming out and kicking him publicly.
"He's part of our family. We'll deal with it behind closed doors."
Apparently Joey either didn't get that memo, or completely ignored it.
Then this week, after reports surfaced that a struggling Brooks was in danger of being dropped to the Tigers' feeder team, Western Suburbs Magpies, Johns reiterated his belief that Brooks "needs a change".
"It's a hard one for me, because Newcastle wanted him at the start of the year," Johns said on his Immortal Behaviour website show.
"I don't know how the salary cap is, if they've got money there. Everyone can see both parties need to break ... it's not working."
One of the sharpest minds in the game, Johns is a great commentator and analyst and it might seem hypocritical to query his opinions, given that they so often create headlines.
But the point is that he is also a Knights employee, in his capacity as a coaching consultant, and his comments about Brooks, in particular, highlight a clear conflict of interests.
The Tigers, incidentally, have never once indicated that they would consider releasing Brooks from his contract for next season.
They're entitled to be disappointed, to say the least, that the eighth Immortal is encouraging their highest-paid player to break ranks.
"I feel for the Tigers, I really do," Knights CEO Philip Gardner told the Newcastle Herald in November.
"We can't talk to Luke Brooks ... we can't stop the speculation, but I can assure you it's not coming from us."
Gardner was right about one thing. They won't stop Joey from speaking his mind. Good luck if they even try.
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