Anyone who’s watched Matty Johns on TV or listened to him on radio will know sledging comes naturally to the former NRL star, but he and his sons have also been on the receiving end of one-liners from footy fans looking for a laugh.
Johns, a high-profile face of Fox Sports’ rugby league coverage, has been spending plenty of time at home in isolation with his wife and two kids because of the coronavirus pandemic.
He invited his family onto the latest episode of The Matty Johns Podcast where the clan shared their funniest sledging memories on the field.
Johns’ eldest son Jack is part of the Rabbitohs’ set-up while his youngest boy Cooper is with the Storm, though both are yet to make their first grade debuts.
Jack, who played for Italy at the 2017 World Cup because of his mother’s heritage, was first up to the plate, recalling a home truth delivered by a punter during a forgettable outing.
“There’s been a fair few (sledges) over the years. I’d probably have to go, when I was playing that game for Italy, I absolutely got hammered. One of the worst games I’ve played, probably ever,” Jack said.
“The Queensland crowd were unforgiving.
“I don’t remember what the worst sledge was but I remember the week leading up there were a few articles in the paper (about the team) … and some bloke, as I got to the tryline and threw a forward pass to Mark Minichiello, just goes, ‘Well mate, you won’t be in the paper now’.
“I remember thinking, ‘Yep, you’ve probably got it right’.”
But Jack’s best story involved a teammate biting back at someone in the crowd when he was a teenager playing around Sydney’s northern beaches.
“Some lady was absolutely hammering me or someone else in the team and I remember (teammate) Whitey stopping in the middle of the game – there must have been a penalty or something – and he goes, ‘Geez, sir can you please calm down’, and the crowd erupted laughing,” he said.
“It was one of the best things I’ve ever heard.”
Cooper remembers copping it in Queensland.Source:Getty Images
Cooper then told the story of a memorable incident while playing in the Queensland Cup.
“I’m sitting there and some guy goes, ‘Aye, Cooper Johns’, and I just look back and there’s this big, old bloke and I go, ‘Hey mate’,” Cooper said.
“He goes, ‘You need to go to the solarium mate, you need to get a tan you were in your dad’s shadow that long’.
“Luckily I had (teammate) Sandor (Earl) there who goes to the solarium and he backed me up.”
Next up was Matty, whose playing style in the halves was compared to a very different activity by one harsh critic.
“I copped it off a bloke one day. This old bloke, he was blind and he goes, ‘Hey Matty, I tell people all the time you play rugby league like a game of chess’,” he said.
“I went, ‘Oh yeah, clever?’ He goes, ‘Nah, slow’.”
At least Matty understood that sledge, which was more than he could say about his brother, legendary halfback Andrew.
The pair played at Newcastle together before Matty later had a stint at Cronulla and Andrew needed some clarification when they met as opponents in a game between the Sharks and Knights.
“I went, ‘Hey Johns, my dad’s been r***ing your mother’,” Matty said. “And the thing is, Joey didn’t get it, I had to explain it to him.”
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