Cooper Cronk and Andrew Johns during Roosters training ahead of their match against Newcastle and former Rooster Mitchell Pearce. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Cooper Cronk and Andrew Johns during Roosters training ahead of their match against Newcastle and former Rooster Mitchell Pearce. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Spotted: Joey plotting Newcastle’s demise

YOU'LL take our Mitchell Pearce, but we'll raise you an Immortal.

The Sydney Roosters have rolled out their secret weapon they hope will help bring down a resurgent Newcastle outfit on Sunday - the Knights' greatest player Andrew Johns.

Rugby league's eighth Immortal was spotted at Roosters training, advising new halfback Cooper Cronk.

Johns, who has been an adviser at the Bondi club for several years, spent an hour in deep discussions with coach Trent Robinson and Cronk and worked him through his paces.

It's another mouth-watering subplot to Sunday evening's grudge match against the Knights and a first meeting with the man forced out by Cronk's arrival, Pearce.

The Allianz Stadium clash will pit the Roosters against a handful of their former players.

But none as high profile as Pearce, the 28-year-old who lost his No. 7 jersey to Cronk when the Roosters secured the former Melbourne Storm premiership-winning halfback.

Now, right in the middle is Johns, the Roosters halves tactician who is a Newcastle Knights legend.

Andrew Johns in action during his days with the Knights.
Andrew Johns in action during his days with the Knights.

When he learned his brother Andrew was specifically helping the Roosters ahead of Sunday's match, Matthew Johns quipped: "They must be paying him well."

Johns knows Pearce better than anyone, having worked with the NSW halfback at the Roosters for the past few years.

Photos taken during the training session show a relaxed Johns plotting the downfall of his old club - and nullifying Pearce.

And that may take some doing.

Can Cronk and Johns plot Pearce’s demise?
Can Cronk and Johns plot Pearce’s demise?

Newcastle have been exceptional over the opening two rounds, beating Manly and Canberra in successive weeks.

The new-look Knights, under the guidance of Pearce and star teenage fullback Kalyn Ponga, look calm, composed and happy.

Pearce has been the player to lead his new side around the paddock with confidence and inspiration.

After Sunday's late win over the Raiders, Pearce spoke about meeting the club he joined back in 2007.

"It will be an exciting game and hopefully there's a big crowd down there," said Pearce.

"I'm sure we'll get plenty of Knights fans that come down. We seem to get a lot more than the Roosters fans.

Pearce has starred in his first two matches as a Knight.
Pearce has starred in his first two matches as a Knight.

"I'm excited to go back there and I'm sure we'll have a couple of laughs in a big game with a few of my mates."

Cronk helped the Roosters to their first win of the season last weekend, playing an influential role in victory over Canterbury at Allianz Stadium.

Johns was unavailable for comment on Monday night.

Former Roosters Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Tautau Moga, Aidan Guerra and Connor Watson will turn out for Newcastle.

A strong crowd is expected for the Sunday night match, which kicks-off at 6.30pm. A large chunk of the crowd will travel down from Newcastle.



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