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Veteran NRL expert Phil Gould and rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns have clarified the drama surrounding a controversial photo taken back in the 2003 State of Origin camp.
Back in 2003, arguably the game's greatest ever player, Johns, was seeking form ahead of the State of Origin series.
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The Knights' iconic halfback admitted himself he wasn't living up to his own lofty standards and a photo was taken of Gould and Johns by themselves on a field.
Gould had his hand extended out towards Johns.
Speculation ran wild over the image with many reports suggesting Johns might not play Origin.
However, Johns said during the period that photo was taken the talk was warranted because his mind wasn't fully focused on the game.
"At the time I wasn't playing that well. I had a lot of discussions away from footy, probably footy wasn't my No.1 focus... other things were getting in the way," Johns told the WWOS Stories of Origin podcast.
Johns admitted he was upset Gould made an example of him.
But he also conceded, after time, he needed one of the best man managers in the game to tell him the truth.
Phil Gould confirms reports around photo were false
Gould remembers the photo that had the rugby league world talking.
And he said the reporting around it was 'disgraceful' and at that exact moment, he was discussing with Johns about how he wanted him to defend against Darren Lockyer.
"I remember the actual photo - in that photo I was actually explaining to him how I wanted him to defend," Gould said on the Six Tackles with Gus podcast.
"I defended him behind the line, in an old-fashioned role, and he would only loom into the line to put pressure on (Darren) Lockyer, whichever side of the field he was. So rather than defend one position he would defend one player."
Reports at the time said Johns had threatened to step away from Origin.
However, Johns admitted he never wanted to do that and Gould was just as adamant.
"Joey called me a couple weeks later... and said 'Do you want me in the team or not?'," Gould said.
"And I said 'Andrew they've sold 52,000 tickets to this game, they're not coming to watch me coach, mate, they're coming to watch you play.'"
Johns was instrumental in the first two games of the 2003 series, which Gould said won them the games.
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