Tom Johnstone targets starting spot for England

Rugby League
Tom Johnstone: Flying start to new season
Tom Johnstone: Flying start to new season

Tom Johnstone says it was "mind-blowing" rubbing shoulders with his boyhood hero Ryan Hall at an England squad session but that will not stop him trying to wrest the number five jersey from his back.

Tom Johnstone says it was "mind-blowing" rubbing shoulders with his boyhood hero Ryan Hall at an England squad session but that will not stop him trying to wrest the number five jersey from his back.

The 22-year-old Wakefield winger is one of three uncapped players in England coach Wayne Bennett's elite training squad hoping to make the team to play New Zealand in Denver on June 23.

Leeds favourite Hall has been a fixture on the England left wing for the last eight years but Johnstone is striving to get the nod ahead of him for the trip to Colorado and is hoping to catch the eye in Sunday's only Super League fixture against Hull KR.

"It was a real eye-opener for me," Johnstone said of the squad's first get-together in Bury. "I was really nervous going into it.

"It was really awkward but, once I got in there, everyone was really welcoming.

"It was mental being next to people like Ryan Hall because I used to go to Leeds games with my granddad when I was younger.

"To be named alongside him in the England squad is mind-blowing, I'm lost for words even now.

"It's a challenge I want to grasp with both hands. Everyone wants to play for their country."

Johnstone was called up by England after starting the season with a hat-trick of tries in Wakefield's opening-round win over Hull KR at Craven Park.

That got his career back on track after he missed the second half of the 2017 season with ruptured knee ligaments but he was dropped from the team by Trinity coach Chris Chester a month ago after suffering a dip in form.

The timing was unfortunate as he sought to impress Bennett in the run-up to Denver but it was nothing compared to the desolation he felt during his six-month injury lay-off when he became so depressed that he went to see Sporting Chance.

"Last year was a big learning curve for me, so missing two games is nothing like missing 20," he said.

"You never want to get pulled out of the team for playing poorly and I was a bit down about it.

"I'm wanting to play the best I can to get the nod for England and I'm thinking 'if I'm not in the team, how am I supposed to show what I can do?'

"I was really frustrated but it gave me a couple of weeks to try and improve the best I can."

Pauli Pauli and Ryan Hampshire were also dropped after Wakefield's home defeat by Leeds but Johnstone took the decision on the chin and his response impressed his coach enough to earn a recall for last week's game against Castleford.

"Tom is close to being an international player," Chester said. "There were just parts of his game we weren't too pleased about.

"I know it's a very tough position to defend but on the wing you've got to make your one-on-one tackles and he missed a couple against Leeds.

"He responded really well. He had a couple of weeks off and put a little bit more size on. Hopefully it was the kick up the backside that Tom needed."

Trinity will be aiming to complete the double over the Robins to avoid being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

"It's a massive game," Johnstone said. "Both teams aren't where they want to be and both have been losing by real tight margins so it's a game of desire at the weekend, we've just got to want it more than them."

Related rugby league links

Most Read

Follow the action from day one of the PDC Champions League of Darts1

Champions League of Darts Live!

Follow day two of the Champions League of Darts with live scores and video highlights as the likes of MVG, Gary Anderson & Mensur Suljovic bid for glory.

Thundering Blue wins well at York2

Blue and Berry Thunder to glory

David Menuisier is eyeing a tilt at the Canadian International with Thundering Blue after his stable star secured another notable prize with a victory in the Group Three Stockholm Cup at Bro Park.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrates his Arsenal goal with Nacho Monreal3

Premier League: Sunday review

A round-up of Sunday's top-flight action, as second-half goals help Arsenal see off Everton, while West Ham halted Chelsea's winning run.

Enable storms to victory in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe4

Gosden stars heading to Arc

John Gosden has issued positive bulletins on Enable and Cracksman who are both heading to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Anthony Joshua on his way to victory at Wembley5

Wilder or Whyte next for Joshua

Anthony Joshua has targeted Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte in his pursuit of an opponent for his April 13 date at Wembley.

Most Read

Follow the action from day one of the PDC Champions League of Darts1

Champions League of Darts Live!

Follow day two of the Champions League of Darts with live scores and video highlights as the likes of MVG, Gary Anderson & Mensur Suljovic bid for glory.

Thundering Blue wins well at York2

Blue and Berry Thunder to glory

David Menuisier is eyeing a tilt at the Canadian International with Thundering Blue after his stable star secured another notable prize with a victory in the Group Three Stockholm Cup at Bro Park.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) celebrates his Arsenal goal with Nacho Monreal3

Premier League: Sunday review

A round-up of Sunday's top-flight action, as second-half goals help Arsenal see off Everton, while West Ham halted Chelsea's winning run.

Enable storms to victory in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe4

Gosden stars heading to Arc

John Gosden has issued positive bulletins on Enable and Cracksman who are both heading to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Anthony Joshua on his way to victory at Wembley5

Wilder or Whyte next for Joshua

Anthony Joshua has targeted Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte in his pursuit of an opponent for his April 13 date at Wembley.

Racing Tips

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action

Monday's racing preview

Nick Grant makes War Eagle his best Monday bet and has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Find out who our team are backing ahead of today's racing

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

A 7/2 winner for David Ord at Hamilton on Sunday - and he heads back to the same track for Monday's best bet.

Horses parade in the sun at Sandown Park

Sporting Life: Tipping record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in September 2018.

Next Race Off
19:30 Laurel Park
1
(1)
Victory Rally
J: Alex Cintron
6
(6)
Ghoul's Night Out
J: Jevian Toledo

Football Tips

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

Horses parade in the sun at Sandown Park

Sporting Life: Tipping record

A look at how the Sporting Life recommended bets have performed in September 2018.

Lewis Grabban scores from the spot

Sporting Life Acca lands

Wins for Nottingham Forest, Charlton Athletic, Doncaster Rovers and Exeter City ensured Sporting Life's Saturday Football accumulator landed.