Rabbitohs speedster, Alex Johnston, is relishing what will now be his third pre-season at Redfern after making his debut in season 2014.
Sweating it out in this week’s heat, Johnston, alongside his Rabbitohs teammates are wrapping up week three of their pre-season training schedule – a period traditionally designed to challenge players both physically and mentally.
For Johnston – the Club’s 2014 Rookie of the Year, and consistent top try-scorer – the pre-season goal is perpetual improvement.
“I took this season (2015) as an opportunity to build on my first year both individually and as a team, and 2016 is going to be the same,” said Johnston.
“I got the chance to play fullback a few times and got to really find my feet on the wing as well, so that’s definitely helped me grow as a player. The more game-time and experience you have under your belt, the more you can offer.
“But that all starts now, so this pre-season I’m just looking at working on all those things I’ve learnt so far and building on them to get better.”
Johnston first burst onto the NRL scene on ANZAC Day 2014 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, with the then-little-known winger bagging a try on debut before going on to score 21 tries in 18 appearances – including the first try of the 2014 Grand Final.
His 68 points for season 2015 was only bested by the goal-kicking genius that is Adam Reynolds, with the halfback top-scoring for the side with 111 points. But it wasn’t just points that Johnston would contribute to the Rabbitohs season.
In total, Johnston appeared in 25 matches this year, racking up a total of 2448 metres off 247 runs, while breaking the defensive line on 21 occasions and offloading 13 times.
But all focus has well and truly shifted from those achievements, with pre-season now well under way and the Club’s trial schedule now announced.
The Club’s first outing in 2016 will be to defend their Auckland Nines crown in early February, with pre-season trial matches set to begin on Saturday 13 February, when the 33rd Charity Shield gets underway against traditional rivals, the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The final touches on the pre-season will be finalised on Saturday 20 February, when the Rabbitohs make the road-trip up to the Gold Coast to take on the Titans at Pizzey Park.