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Australian great gets the boot over sex scandal

FORMER Australia international and popular rugby league personality Matthew Johns lost his television and coaching jobs yesterday because of his involvement in a group sex incident with a fan in New Zealand in 2002.

The behavior of one of the sport's most popular identities during a tour with his Australian National Rugby League club seven years ago has triggered a nearly week-long furor and another crisis for the scandal-plagued sport.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday screened a television interview with a woman who said Johns and some of his former Cronulla Sharks teammates took part in the sex incident in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch.

The woman told the ABC's Four Corners program Johns and another player took her to their hotel room in Christchurch.

She said over the next two hours, up to 12 players or club staff entered the room and six of them participated in sex acts with the woman.

The woman, who was 19 at the time, made a complaint five days later to Christchurch police, who traveled to Australia to interview all 40 Cronulla players and staff involved in the trip.

No charges were laid.

The woman said she had suffered post traumatic stress disorder and had attempted suicide in the years since.

Johns yesterday met with top executives of the Nine Network, which airs the popular weekly The Footy Show, which he co-hosts.

Nine said after the meeting that Johns had been stood down indefinitely from all on-air commitments.

Johns also lost the support of the Melbourne Storm club, which announced yesterday it was suspending Johns' part-time coaching contract because of the incident.

Johns later appeared on television, alongside his wife, Trish, and said he regretted being involved. "Any trauma and embarrassment she has gone through as the result of this incident I am extremely sorry for," Johns said.


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