Andrew Johns sidelined in Channel 9 NRL commentary shake-up

Andrew Johns has reportedly been getting used to a less glamorous role as Channel 9 experiments with its commentary team.

A report claims Andrew Johns isn’t impressed with being shuffled to sideline duties as part of a rejig within Channel 9’s NRL commentary team.

Phil Rothfield of the Sunday Telegraph reported on the weekend Johns has been shifted to the sideline for several games, rather than being stationed in the box with the network’s main commentary crew.

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“Leave me out of that,” Johns told the Sunday Telegraph when asked about his commentary situation.

Last year Nine issued a press release trumpeting its new five-year broadcast rights deal with the NRL where it referenced its “all-star commentary team” — but there was no mention of Johns. Queensland greats Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston were highlighted as callers “lending their dedication to the game and analytical expertise”.

The Sunday Telegraph reports Johns is off contract with Nine at the end of the year.

The Newcastle legend had a strong opinion about Nathan Cleary’s ugly tackle on Billy Walters during Penrith’s win over the Broncos on Friday night, calling it “really dangerous”.

Panthers playmaker Cleary wrapped his leg around Walters in a tackle, forcing the Brisbane five-eighth into an awkward position as he fell to the turf.

The match review committee hit Cleary with a grade one dangerous contact charge but opted not to suspend the Panthers halfback, instead fining him a minimum of $1000. If he unsuccessfully pleads his case at the judiciary, Cleary will cop a $1500 fine.

During the Sunday Footy Show, Johns made his feelings about the tackle known, directly addressing Cleary, who was on the program as a guest.

“I thought looking at it and after the game, I thought it was really dangerous,” Johns told Cleary. “Talk us through it.”

Cleary was quick to agree that the tackle wasn’t pretty.

“That was a really bad one,” Cleary admitted. “It was an awkward tackle, I rushed out and tried to take him to the ground. It was poor technique.

“As soon as my leg came off the ground, anything can happen from there. I definitely didn’t do it with any intent, but it was a real ugly one.”

Johns then asked Cleary what he said to Walters once the tackle had finished.

“I was just apologising straight away,” Cleary said.

“I felt it get awkward and his knee get trapped. It definitely wasn’t something I was trying to do. I was just trying to see if he was all right.”

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