Cooper Johns – nephew of Andrew and son of Matthew – had a tough NRL debut in Melbourne Storm’s 14-0 loss to Parramatta, but he later revealed he was overcome with nerves before kick-off.
Making his first-grade debut at halfback for the Storm with Jahrome Hughes one of many Melbourne players out injured, Johns carried plenty of expectation into Thursday night.
With a surname like ‘Johns’ the pressure was always going to be on, and he admitted that he wasn’t his normal calm self pre-game.
“It hit me when we started warming up,” Johns told Nine’s Macca’s Golden Point show after the defeat at Bankwest Stadium.
“In the space of 10 seconds I got really nervous, it was weird. “
Brad Fittler predicted the youngster to have a “big impact” however with Melbourne having little possession and struggling to assert themselves in attack, Johns wasn’t able to get too involved in the action, finishing with six carries, 27 metres gained, 18 tackles, two tackle busts, and 29 passes in 80 minutes.
He was also unluckily placed on report for a soft crusher tackle on Maika Sivo and gave away an escort penalty to hand Parramatta the first points of the game in front of the uprights.
“It’s a bit more physical than playing reserve grade,” Johns said in summarising his debut.
“It’s disappointing to not get the win, but I got the first game out of the way .”
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Andrew Johns described his nephew as “cool and relaxed” and was giving him advice in the lead-up to the game.
“They were calling me everyday, dad and Joey,” Johns, 21, told Nine.
“It’s disappointing I didn’t get to put into practice what they said, but there’s always next time.”