YOUNG PLAYER of the year Tom Johnstone has no intention of resting on his laurels in 2017.
The Wakefield Trinity winger had a sensational season last year, despite a long-term injury, but admits he is far from the finished article.
Johnstone scored 22 tries in 25 appearances and collected Super League’s young player award at the annual Man of Steel presentation.
He carried on from where he left off by grabbing a hat-trick in Wakefield’s Boxing Day win at Leeds Rhinos and is hoping that set the scene for another successful campaign, both personally and as a team.
“Things are going really well,” said the German-born Stanningley product, who will sit out Sunday’s trial game at Dewsbury Rams.
“We’ve had a good pre-season.
“It has been pretty tough, I am glad to see the back end of it, but we started well on Boxing Day and with the new signings we can definitely match what happened last year.
“Personally, I am hoping to better it, improve and see how it goes.”
At only 21, the speedy wideman has the potential to go all the way in the game and admitted last season’s individual accolade was a big boost to his confidence.
“It was nice getting the award, I never thought I would – even when I was there,” he said of the young-player prize.
“When they called my name I didn’t really believe it, but it has given me a bit of belief in myself.
“I want to keep improving and not dwell on it too much.
“I just want to keep working and aiming towards bigger and better things.”
Johnstone’s record last year could have been even more impressive, but for an injury which sidelined him for eight games from July to September.
“I managed to get a fracture in my leg, then I fell over walking about and managed to displace it,” he recalled.
“I had to have an operation to get a plate put in. When I came back they said I wouldn’t be fully ready, I’d still feel a bit of pain, but it’d be strong enough to play. I wanted to get a few games to get confidence for pre-season and now, five or six months later, it is 100 per cent, it’s healed and ready to go.”
Trinity begin their Betfred Super League campaign at home to Hull on Sunday, February 12. Johnstone said: “We’ve got a few more pre-season games to try and stake a spot, but I can’t wait for the chance to get out there in Super League again.
“With the new signings we’ve got, people like Scott Grix, I am looking forward to a big year.”
England will be involved in a World Cup campaign at the end of the season and if he keeps improving at his current rate Johnstone will be a contender for one of the wing spots.
But he insisted: “I’ve not thought about it. I’ve had people asking me if I am looking towards it, but there’s a lot of good wingers in front of me like Jermaine McGillvary, Joe Burgess is back in Super League and Dom Manfredi was in good form before he got injured.
“I am just trying to focus on my own game and improve from last year.
“If I get the chance I’ll grab it with both hands, but I’m looking a couple of years down the line.
“There’s a lot to improve on first, so I’ll see how it goes.”