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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 10:00 GMT
Legend Johns to represent Kiwis
Former Australia star Andrew Johns
Johns will swap Australia's green and gold for New Zealand's colours
Legendary Australia scrum-half Andrew Johns has agreed to play for New Zealand on their centenary tour of Great Britain later this year.

The Kiwis made the offer to honour the contribution of Dally Messenger, the Australian who played for the Kiwis on their first British tour back in 1907.

The 32-year-old Johns retired from representative rugby in 2005.

"It's a great honour - there's no bigger name in rugby league history than Dally Messenger," said Johns.

"I have always thought, 'I wonder how good it would be to play behind a Kiwi pack'."

Johns, who has been given a release to play by his club side Newcastle Knights, will appear in a one-off match against a Great Britain XIII, designed to mirror the 1907 game against the "Northern Union".

New Zealand have also asked Ruben Wiki and Nigel Vagana to come out of international retirement for the tour, while Catalans Dragons half-back Stacey Jones could also feature.

Wiki, the most-capped player in rugby league history, and Vagana, New Zealand's record tryscorer, announced their retirement from international rugby after last November's Tri Nations Series final defeat by Australia.

"We're also hoping that Ruben and Nigel will accept invitations to play," said New Zealand coach Brian McClennan.


"There's still a chance that Stacey Jones will be involved but Joey (Andrew Johns) is the jewel in the crown."

Messenger, one of Australian rugby league's all-time greats, was a guest player in the first-ever international between New Zealand - then known as the All Golds - and the Northern Union in 1907.

"Having the status of players like that playing in a game to mark our centenary and the birth of international rugby league - and to mark the end of their representative careers - is a pretty good formula for us," said NZRL general manager Peter Cordtz.

Johns is widely regarded as one of the best rugby league players the sport has ever produced, having won the Golden Boot as the international game's outstanding player twice.

He won 21 caps for the Kangaroos - winning the 1995 and 2000 World Cups - in addition to an illustrious State of Origin career with New South Wales.

New Zealand will play three Tests against Great Britain in October and November in addition to other warm-up matches.

  • Johns said he will make a decision on his club future in May.

    The Australian is contracted to NRL side Newcastle Knights until the end of the 2008 season but has been linked with Super League side Warrington.

    RFL unveils dates for NZ series
    02 Mar 07 |  Rugby League
    Kiwi trio call time after defeat
    25 Nov 06 |  International
    Johns 'may return to Warrington'
    04 Jan 07 |  Warrington
    Johns quits international stage
    30 Mar 06 |  International
    Joker Johns
    03 Aug 05 |  Rugby League
    Warrington complete Johns signing
    04 Aug 05 |  Rugby League
    Johns rejects code switch
    25 Jun 04 |  Rugby League
    Johns wins Golden Boot
    18 Jan 02 |  Rugby League


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