Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston is back in pre-season training and ready to tackle what is shaping up to be his first full season in first grade after a meteoric rise in 2014.
After a well-deserved break, the 2014 Four Nations Kangaroos squad member wasted no time in throwing himself into the grind under Head Coach Michael Maguire, citing the importance of the period to the success of any season.
“Training at this time of year is always a challenge, but we all know that it’s especially needed at this time of the year,” said Johnston.
“The temperature is a lot higher than during the regular season, so you have that to contend with as well as the extra running and extra physical work to help get our bodies prepared for the year.
“The body’s still getting used to it – you tend to pull up a bit sore after the first few sessions, but it’s definitely been good to be back around the boys and getting to meet all the new guys as well."
At this time last year, the La Perouse product was preparing himself for a season in the Club’s NYC side, with the hope that he might eventually get a shot in first grade. After 20 games in the NYC, his opportunity came on ANZAC Day in a blockbuster clash against the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium – the Souths Junior capping off the occasion with a try on debut.
Fast forward to Redfern 2015, and Johnston returns to Rabbitohs training boasting some impressive achievements.
In addition to his memorable first grade debut, Johnston became the Club’s 2014 top try-scorer (21 in 18 games), won the John Sattler Rookie of the Year Award, in addition to picking up a Premiership ring and Kangaroo squad selection.
“I just focussed on playing the best footy that I could,” said Johnston.
“Every day and every week is about making the most of my opportunities as they come. When Madge did give me a chance, I was pretty focussed on making that chance my own.”
On scoring the most tries of any Rabbitoh last season, Johnston praised his teammates for putting him in the right positions in addition to having a good measure of luck.
“I think most of them were just a bit of luck,” laughed Johnston.
“I was fortunate that the boys put me in all the right spots last year and I was just there to finish off. But I guess to cross for that many was definitely a confidence booster for me personally.”
Johnston averaged 104.4 metres per match with the ball in hand in his debut season, made 35 tackle breaks, 21 line breaks, six offloads and two try-assists while scoring a total of 84 points.