Cooper Johns lives for the day he will make his NRL debut and wants nothing more than to have his dad and mum watching from the stands - even if the latter doesn’t see a lot.
Story by Amanda Lulham, Newcastle Herald
The 20-year-old said his mother Trisha might be his biggest fan off the pitch but when it comes to matches, she doesn’t watch a lot.
“Mum was always the one that drove me to footy training and did the cooking for us and stuff. She had a big impact on me growing up. I want to do well for her,’’ he said.
“She can’t stand to watch it because she hates the big hits. She makes this horrific sounds which is like screaming cats.
“I want her there even if she won’t watch it. I’ll probably hear her though.”
Promoted from the development squad into the main roster at Melbourne Storm last season, the halfback maintains he was always destined for a career in rugby league - whether his family liked it or not.
The son of Australian and Origin player Matthew and nephew of Knights legend and NRL Immortal Andrew, Johns said he was steered into soccer and cricket as a youngster and away from the game which made his family household names.
“I played soccer and cricket because dad was edging me away from playing,’’ Johns said. I managed to weasel my way into rugby league eventually though".
“People say it, ‘gee, you must worry about the pressure of your family’ but I never really thought about it. Dad was just my role model. Whatever your Dad does you want to do as a kid.
“Now dad reckons he’s the fourth best player in the family after my uncle, me and my brother.’’
Despite close family ties with the Knights, Cooper said Storm is the right fit for him.
“I used to support them growing up. When I was really young I just liked to support teams that won,’’ said Johns who admits he is the “self appointed clown” of the squad. My brother (Jack) is a massive Knights fan though. I was in Manly at under 18s, the Knights wanted me for under 20s but it was a better opportunity to train here".
“Here I was out of my depth. It has made me a better player.
“I was right out of my comfort zone. I’ve never done training like this in my life.
“And we are like our own little family.’’
Off field Johns shares his real families love of music.
“I like guitar, piano, I like my music, it’s some something I would like to do in the future,’’ he said.
“I’m old school -. I like Eric Clapton, things like that.
“Piano, I like Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody. I just learn them. I do it off You Tube and sheet music.
“It switches me off. Helps me relax. My whole family love music.’