Clive Woodward has backed the continued pursuit of rugby league’s greatest talents as the New South Wales Rugby Union close in on the signing of superstar Australian half-back Andrew Johns.
Considered the finest rugby league player in the world, Johns has been targeted to play fly-half for Super 12 side the NSW Waratahs, where he would join forces with fellow cross-code recruits Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers.
Johns is said to be “very enthusiastic” about the idea of playing rugby union and inspired by the possibility of playing for Australia at the 2007 World Cup in France.
“As a rugby fan I think it is fantastic whenever these league (players) come over,” England coach Woodward said.
“The more players who play our sport the better it is. I think it is fantastic. The more the game develops the more we should be welcoming these guys into the game.
“Him coming over would bring tremendous interest to the game. If it was to happen I think it would be brilliant.
"Bringing Jason Robinson over was fantastic for England; Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor (for Australia)."
Johns, who has won everything there is to win in rugby league, had his eyes opened to the international lure of rugby union during last year’s World Cup, when he joined Wales for a training session and then watched in awe as England won a dramatic final.
The two tries in that game were both scored by former rugby league players - Tuqiri for Australia and Robinson for England – before Jonny Wilkinson went on to win the game with his boot.
“I know that the prospect of marking up against Jonny Wilkinson is a huge incentive for him,” Johns’ elder brother Matthew, himself a former rugby league international, said earlier this year.