Rugby league great Andrew Johns has angrily denied suggestions he introduced a dangerous culture of gambling and partying to the Manly NRL club.
Johns, who worked with the Sea Eagles as an assistant coach from 2012 until the end of last year, is a close friend of renowned punter and former brothel owner Eddie Hayson, but the rugby league Immortal says suggestions he brought the controversial figure to the club are “ludicrous”.
“I didn’t even go to games socially because I was working at the football for Channel 9,” Johns told News Corp Australia.
“I knew Eddie from my time at Newcastle but I didn’t attend any games with him or involve him in the Manly club.”
Johns’ insistence comes four days after it was revealed Manly’s round 16 loss to South Sydney and round 24 loss to Parramatta last season were reportedly under the microscope of the NSW organised crime squad.
Hayson, who is reportedly socially involved with Brett Stewart and former Manly players Glenn Stewart, Kieran Foran and Anthony Watmough, has been linked with placing large bets on at least the Rabbitohs clash.
Hayson has denied those claims, and there is no suggestion any of those players are involved in any match-fixing allegations.
Johns and Hayson once owned six racing horses together and were embroiled in a betting scandal when the latter reportedly won $1 million after betting against Newcastle, in a match where the Knights halfback was ruled out injured late in the week.
The NRL investigated the matter, but both were cleared of any wrongdoing.
Johns’ denials came after Manly official Peter Peters said on Sunday the club had long been worried about some of the figures former off-field staff had brought to the club.
“We’re concerned at some of the elements that are around our club, that are seemingly welcomed to the club by a certain section of our club’ – who are, I might say, no longer with us,” Peters told Sky Sports Radio.
“We had a situation where we felt like we should go to the NRL. The concern was about just the types that were gathering.”