Immortal Andrew Johns has blamed the rise of social media for the ugly, public divorce between the Canberra Raiders and their English import, George Williams.
A report earlier this week claimed that Williams sent a text message to the Raiders’ welfare manager to inform them he would not be attending training, however the Brit sensationally refuted the report via Twitter, and slammed suggestions he agitated Canberra CEO Don Furner and coach Ricky Stuart into granting him an immediate release, stating he only ever requested a release for the end of the season on compassionate grounds.
The back and forth in the media between homesick Williams and the club has been raised as one of the reasons the Raiders have been struggling on the field, with the 2019 grand finalists slipping well out of title contention after starting the season as top four fancies.
Johns believes the Williams-Raiders tension has reverberated in the locker room, but said the heart of the problem was social media’s role in exposing things that might have been kept more confidential in previous years.
“The difference is, years ago, this is handled in-house and stayed there, but now with social media and whatnot I think it’s …sewerage,” Johns told Wide World of Sports’ Immortal Behaviour.
“There’s two different versions of what’s coming out. If you listen to what the players are saying, George got on Twitter and put his version forward and then several players back him up on that, and then there’s a different chorus coming out from the coaches.”
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Johns said among the playing group, such a public fallout between a pivotal player like Williams has a huge ripple effect in the team.
“It really affects players. It affects their teammates too,” he said.
“The different players can be very popular and whatever they are, the gun player, or the alpha male, or whether they’re the joker -players gravitate towards them and love them.
“So naturally if they’re getting moved on it can affect not only the player but people within the team and their little gang.
“Players get together, they train, they go have a coffee and chit-chat and that’s how it can build.
“Josh Hodgson also isn’t happy about playing and starting on the bench and he’s let that be known publicly. There’s talk they’re looking to move him on to Brisbane so if that’s in the press then obviously there might be some truth to it. Who knows. Not good.”
Williams slams Raiders amid split
Johns had the Raiders as his “dark horse” this season and is disappointed to see how the club has fared, sitting 11th on the ladder despite the obvious talent within their ranks.
With no real winners in the situation, Johns had a dire prediction for how the team will respond this weekend.
“I don’t [think they can turn it around against the Roosters]. It looks really raw at the moment,” Johns said.
“It looks from the outside that there is a bit of a split there. But one thing Ricky has probably been through this as a player and also as a coach so he’ll have some ideas how to handle it.
“It’s a sensitive one and there’s no easy way to do it other that hit someone between the eyes, you decide ‘I don’t want to be here as a player, I want to leave’.”
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