But the Seven Network has swooped on his availability nearly a year later in a bid to achieve a successful variety-chat show in the Sydney and Brisbane markets.
With his name in the title, Seven is firmly behind Johns and Shane Webcke in what it promises is "a unique and entertaining take on rugby league backed by the game's strongest panel of experts". It also features special guests, live performances, music and comedy.
The show will premiere at 7:30pm Thursday, March 25, in Sydney and Brisbane. Viewers in other states will have to wait until 12am on Friday, March 25, to catch it.
Meanwhile, AFL fans will be chased by The Bounce, a new variety show hosted by Peter Helliar with Matthew Richardson and former AFL coach Leigh Matthews. This too will be shooting for a family audience, with "hot footy news, guests, stunts and gags, plus live crosses to wherever the pre-round action is happening."
Helliar, who was formerly part of Before the Game for TEN, will be without his famed "Strauchanie" character, but promises to develop new ones. The show also has a resident band.
The Bounce will premiere 7:30pm Wednesday, March 24, in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. It will screen at 12:30am Friday, March 25, in Sydney and Brisbane.
Johns' reputation notwithstanding, Seven should have an easier ride with its new NRL show. Nine's Footy Show (NRL) hosted by Paul "Fatty" Vautin has been under-performing for some time. Its debut this week pulled just 199,000 viewers in Sydney.
If nothing else, sports fans are surely not lacking for choice.