NRL 2020: Craig Bellamy sledges Andrew, Matty Johns over Cooper Johns selection
Craig Bellamy just couldn’t help himself.
The ever-serious Melbourne coach managed a chuckle when he landed a drive-by on Andrew and Matthew Johns while talking about another member of the family set to make their mark in the NRL.
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When Bellamy fronted the press yesterday, Matty’s son Cooper was in line to make his first-grade debut against Parramatta tonight, ready to be parachuted into the halves if first choice No. 7 Jahrome Hughes didn’t recover from a groin injury.
Hughes has since been officially ruled out and 20-year-old Cooper will play halfback against the Eels — who uncle Andrew consults with, adding an extra layer to the match-up.
It’s impossible to speak about Cooper without mentioning Newcastle legends Andrew and Matty, and Bellamy took the chance to slide in a sledge about the NRL greats’ extra-curricular activities.
“We’ve had Cooper doing most of the stuff there (at halfback) this week, so hopefully if Jahrome doesn’t play that’s a good experience for Cooper and hopefully he’ll be ready to go,” Bellamy said.
“He’s a pretty level-headed kid actually, on and off the field, which is probably not a Johns trait — especially off the field.
“I hope Matty and Joey don’t mind me saying that but he’s had a good education in life and footy obviously.
“He’s a really good kid. Very level-headed with his footy and as you can imagine, very well educated with his footy.”
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NRL 360 co-host Paul Kent said Cooper is “going to have to find a way to deal” with the expectation of playing in the same position as his famous family members, while ex-Queensland playmaker Ben Ikin said the youngster’s inclusion provides another storyline for tonight’s match.
“It certainly adds another layer of expectation, doesn’t it, being the son of Matt Johns, the nephew of Andrew,” Ikin said.
“We can talk about it (the pressure of expectation) all we want but it’s about how real young Cooper makes it.”
Cooper is also following in the footsteps of older brother Jack, who made his NRL debut this season for the Rabbitohs.
Originally published as Coach’s loose Joey, Matty Johns sledge