Cooper Johns announces retirement from NRL to take up Kyle and Jackie O radio gig

The 24-year-old has played for the Melbourne Storm and Manly Sea Eagles.

Cooper Johns, pictured here with father Matty and brother Jack.
Cooper Johns with father Matty and brother Jack. Image: Getty

Cooper Johns has swapped a Steeden for a studio, confirming live on-air he has quit the NRL to become part of the top rating Kyle and Jackie O Show on KISS FM. The former Melbourne and Manly playmaker was not re-signed by the Sea Eagles at the end of the 2023 season and was reportedly eyeing a move to Super League.

But as the Kyle and Jackie O Show returned to air on Monday morning, Jackie asked: "Why is Cooper Johns here all of a sudden? He's got his own desk!"

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Kyle Sandilands replied: "We're not sure what he does yet but we've just secured his services. The reason why we got Coops is because I thought he's very, very good. We were paranoid and thought 'we've got to secure this guy'."

Jack and Cooper Johns, pictured here after an NRL game between Newcastle and Manly in 2023.
Jack and Cooper Johns after an NRL game between Newcastle and Manly in 2023. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Johns, considered a rising media star after stints on radio, television and podcasts, took to the microphone to confirm he was part of the team, joking: "Nobody really knew what I was doing (in here this morning) and I don't actually know what I'm doing either."

Sandilands then revealed he had to convince Cooper's father – former NRL star and media personality Matty Johns – that the radio gig was worth quitting footy for. "His father was on the phone saying 'don’t let my son get screwed. You really want him to quit footy? It's got to be worth his while," Kyle said.

Cooper Johns quickly returned to the mic to inform the audience he hadn’t formally declared his career was over, but Sandilands had just done that for him. "That hasn’t been announced yet, but ahh……," he said amid much laughter.

Manly CEO responds to Cooper Johns retirement news

The 24-year-old played 11 games for the Melbourne Storm between 2020-22 before landing at the Sea Eagles last year on a train and trial contract. He turned out in eight NRL matches but was unable to nail down a permanent spot.

Manly CEO Tony Mestrov confirmed there was no deal on the table for 2024 and wished Johns all the best in his new role. "I hadn't heard that Cooper had given footy away but if that's the case then good luck to him with the radio gig," he told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"He was a very popular and much-loved figure at Manly and contributed greatly to the culture we are building here. Cooper will be a success in whatever he decides to do and will always be welcome at the club."

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