Andrew Johns had a simple game plan when it came to letting his hair down in the prime of his career.
He'd find the best out-of-the-way joint where patrons were at a minimum and those that were there didn’t really give a stuff who he was.
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The dingier and dodgier the better.
In Sydney, it was often an old fishermen's club situated on a roundabout opposite a car yard, an Autotune franchise and some rundown tennis courts.
The joint reeked of old Winnie Blues and a thousand spilt schooners and saved on the power bill by keeping the lighting to about six watts.
In other words, the perfect hideout for someone with a profile.
There was another place he'd frequent, found down a wonky stairwell where you'd step back to a time where RSA stood for Regular Service of Alcohol and Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' was on high rotation.
Joey held court down there one night with an American tourist who had no idea who he was until told by a friend.
"Just think of me as Australia's version of Joe Namath…your shout," he told his new friend.
Andrews Johns' simple advice to Kalyn Ponga
Johns is now trying to help navigate the right path for Kalyn Ponga, who is the biggest thing to hit Newcastle since Joey and is wearing all the pressure – on and off the field – that comes with the tag.
Hiding away from the public, which Ponga is now being urged to do in the wake of Cubicle-gate, is not the answer according to the eighth Immortal.
Hiding in plain sight, he argues, is a better alternative.
"You've got to remember he's still in his 20s and is a single bloke. He's allowed to go out," Joey told Radio SEN when discussing the Ponga pub drama.
"He's got to learn that living in the fishbowl, which is Newcastle, you've got to know your safe places to go.
"My place was my mate's place, The Burwood.
"I’d go down there if I wanted to blow some steam off – I’d blow plenty off – but if there was any drama he'd sit me in the corner or drive me home.
"For the next two or three days you’re not paranoid and thinking 'oh no, what have I done? Where have I been?'"
Johns admits it wasn’t a good look for Ponga to visit a pub while his team was playing in Brisbane, but was symptomatic of where the Knights were at as a club.
He said: "It's hard for me to comment because I lived a colourful life … it makes me sad, not angry."
Team Ponga could do a lot worse than bringing Joey a step closer to their inner sanctum.
He's the only one who truly knows what the superstar fullback is going through - and can help him avoid the self-destruct button.
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