Tom Johnstone isn’t the only person who hopes that his injury woes are well and truly behind him.
The gifted Wakefield Trinity winger is firing fit once again after missing the majority of the 2019 campaign with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
The 24-year-old had scored six tries in his first six appearances, picking up where he left off in 2018 after claiming 24 tries in 23 Super League outings.
But his hopes of taking Wakefield into the Super League play-offs and a potential Great Britain call-up were dashed when his season was cruelly ended by a ruptured ACL in a victory at Hull FC in March.
It was the second time in three seasons that Johnstone had been hit by such an unfortunate, and lengthy, injury, after he ruptured his ACL in his other knee in 2017.
“It was pretty tough,” said Johnstone when reflecting on his time on the sidelines.
“I knew how to deal with it a lot more this time. And I did feel a lot better in myself dealing with it.
But, towards the last few months that is the hardest part. It is a real struggle because you feel good but you are not there yet.”
Johnstone returned to the Wakefield line-up for the first time in almost 10 months last weekend as Trinity secured an 18-6 win over Hull KR in Danny Brough’s testimonial.
The prolific winger even marked his return with a trademark try, diving over in the left corner and planting the ball down with one hand.
Head coach Chris Chester expressed his delight at having Johnstone back at his disposal while plenty of the Belle Vue faithful will be equally as pleased by Johnston’s return.
Wakefield face the Robins in their opening match of the Super League season but Johnstone won’t put pressure on himself if he doesn’t start scoring in the competitive games straightaway.
“It would be good to pick up where I finished and get over for one. But for me it is more about wanting to settle back in,” he added.
“Last time it was a bit of a slow start coming off the other ACL, it wasn’t until about May until I hit a bit of form.
“I just want to start a bit better this time. If I don’t score for a few games I won’t be that bothered.
“As long as I am doing my job, slotting back into the team and we are playing well, I am happy. I will be grateful just to be out there on that pitch.”
Johnstone’s injury meant that he didn’t get the opportunity to play alongside Wakefield’s mid-season signings Ryan Atkins and Kelepi Tanginoa.
Trinity have also signed a host of new players ahead of the new season and Johnstone is excited to take the field with the new faces at Belle Vue.
“I am still looking forward to getting out there with Kelepi and Ryan Atkins, he has had a big influence and is a big leader in the team,” he said.
“Kelepi is just a freak. And then you have got Joe Westerman who has come in and taken a real leadership role. And that is what we need, we need someone to take charge.
“It goes well with Dave [Fifita] and Ti [Arona] and you have got Pittsy [Jay Pitts] filling in on that right second-row spot.
“We have Alex [Walker] at full-back and I have been trying to get to grips with what he wants me to do. I am looking forward to getting a few more weeks training in and playing alongside those players.”
Johnstone earned his first England cap at the end of 2018, scoring a hat-trick on his international debut against France. This autumn, Australia will tour England as part of a three-Test Ashes series and Johnstone wants to do all he can to earn a call-up.
He added: “I have got a list of things I want to check off and that is probably near the end of it because it is near the end of the season.
“I do want to push back into that international squad and play a full series against the Aussies or the Kiwis.
“And with the Ashes being confirmed, I would love to be involved in that.”