When Andrew Johns speaks, the rugby league world generally listens; especially when it has to do with halfbacks.
Johns has expressed his dismay at the treatment of Kyle Flanagan after the 22-year-old playmaker was this week told by the Sydney Roosters that he's not in the club's plans for the future.
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Flanagan was informed that his Roosters contract won't be renewed beyond the end of next season and it appears increasingly likely he will be at the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2021.
His father - former Sharks coach and more recently Dragons assistant coach Shane Flanagan - said his son was blindsided by the Roosters' call and left “gutted” by their decision.
Flanagan was reportedly made aware of the club's intentions by coach Trent Robinson, who sat down and spoke with him the morning before the Roosters' end-of-season presentation night.
The 22-year-old was playing in his first full year of the NRL and charged with filling the boots of retired legend Cooper Cronk - an almost impossible task for any player.
However, the Roosters fell short in their quest for a third straight premiership after being knocked out in last weekend's sudden death semi-final against Canberra.
Now it appears, Flanagan is set to pay the price for the club's failure but Johns insists it's the wrong call.
"Everyone is knocking Kyle Flanagan, but I think he's had a really strong year," he told Nine media.
"Go and watch Johnathan Thurston when he was 20. Go and watch myself when I was 20 or 21.
"Go and watch Cooper Cronk, he was coming off the bench playing dummy half.
"It takes so long to try and master the halfback position.
"People are being too tough on Kyle Flanagan and the people who are being tough on him don't know what they're talking about."
Flanagan played 20 games for the Roosters this year, with coach Trent Robinson dropping him midway through the season so he could work on his development.
He had previously played nine games for Cronulla before moving to the Roosters as a replacement for premiership winner Cronk.
Legends go in to bat for Flanagan
Johns believes constant change in the Roosters' spine hampered Flanagan's impact.
"When Victor Radley got hurt, he's their link in the middle of the field. And when he went, Kyle Flanagan took on a lot more responsibility, also Keary had those head knocks," Johns said.
"I don't understand it."
Roosters legend and NSW State of Origin coach Brad Fittler said he also thought Flanagan was being harshly treated.
Fittler pointed to the fact that the youngster's 198 points in the NRL this season was second only to South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds.
"He's the second highest pointscorer," Fittler said.
"He kicked goals all year, winning goals.
"Stood up to the pressure of the game, and it was a long season for them too.
"When you looked at the Roosters there was a bit of fade there, there was a bit of fatigue and Canberra just ran over the top of them."
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