Andrew Johns has backed young gun Xavier Coates to play for Australia, and believes his move to the Storm is all but done.

Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns has backed young gun Xavier Coates to play for Australia, and believes his move the Melbourne Storm is all but done.

“You join the dots; Josh Addo-Carr is going to the Bulldogs, and they want a similar like-for-like replacement,” he said on Nine’s Immortal Behaviour.

“He hasn’t reached the heights of Josh Addo-Carr but you can see the potential,” he said.

“A few weeks ago he got in the clear early in the game and actually outran Josh Addo-Carr, which was really surprising. But he’ll get in the system down there and he’ll flourish, he’s already played Origin but under the Melbourne Storm regime, without doubt he’ll play for Australia.”

It’s no surprise to see players move from struggling NRL clubs to Melbourne and elevate their games – and while Coates’ pedigree is already quite high, Johns said he will take his game to an even higher level under Craig Bellamy.

“You see players who go to the Storm who are on the scrapheap, or they’re called journeyman players … there’s players there who are killing it and I have no doubt that if they went to another club they’d struggle, they’d struggle a lot. They wouldn’t be the same players.”

Johns said that when Bellamy’s coaching career finished, he deserved to be talked about in conversations about the best ever coaches.

“You’re talking about Jack Gibson, Wayne Bennett…well Craig Bellamy, he’s in the argument for sure.”

The 20-year-old is a hot commodity in the game, with Kevin Walters on Friday insisting that Coates was going nowhere despite rumours of him signing with Melbourne surfacing over the past week.

But what makes Coates so good?

“Athletically, he’s unbelievable. He’s a big body so he gets the sets rolling forward on those second players coming out of trouble, which is so important, and his height – he’s a real target in the air,” Johns said.

“His potential is bottomless really, you don’t know where he can get to.”

The former Knights skipper said the Broncos should be ‘terrified’ about their player retention systems right now.

“David Fifita left, I know he got huge money, Reece Walsh went to the Warriors and he looks like a smaller version of Kalyn Ponga the way he plays. Sam Walker was in the system there.

“I know you can’t keep them all, but you’ve got to recognise the ones that are very special. There’s no way you can let them go.

“All you wanted to do was play for the Broncos,” Johns said as he rattled off a list of Maroons and Kangaroos reps.

“Something’s missing up there, something’s broke.”

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