WAKEFIELD Trinity Wildcats have ignored a potential fee from a rival Super League club to secure exciting winger Tom Johnstone to a new four-year contract.
The academy product scored nine tries in 13 games for Trinity this season, establishing himself as one of the club’s brightest stars.
Johnstone, 20, only signed a three-year deal in March a week before his Super League debut against Wigan Warriors.
But such has been his swift progress since then that chairman Michael Carter felt it imperative they sit down again to thrash out a longer contract.
“We were very keen after the the season Tom’s just had to try and tie him up for a bit longer here,” he said about the pacey wideman who was born in Germany where his father was stationed with the army but grew up in Leeds.
“There’s certainly been one Super League club that has contacted me about the possibility of buying him from us.
“I know another side was interested, too, though they have not been in touch directly.
“We sat down with his agent and very quickly came to terms on this four-year deal which is great news for the club as Tom is a very exciting player for us.”
Carter admits he is especially pleased given the player, who thrived despite Wakefield finishing bottom of Super League in 2015, has come through their own ranks.
“I think as a chairman of a club you are even closer with the players that have come through your own structures as you are proud of that fact,” he added.
“I was very disappointed to lose a couple of players out of our scholarship recently but we’ve kept Tom and it was great to see him last season holding his own against more experienced players here.
“He realises he still has a lot to work on in his game but with a coach like Brian Smith looking after him knows he can only help his football further.”
Johnstone, who started last season on dual-registration with Championship club Featherstone Rovers, admitted: “I am absolutely thrilled to say that I have signed a new deal with the club and am excited to keep on developing under such an experienced coach as Brian.
“I love the way the club is moving forward and can’t wait to be a part of that for another four years.”
Carter, meanwhile, is growing frustrated in his bid to bring London Broncos’ half-back Joe Keyes to Trinity.
He has enquired about the 20-year-old but has not had a firm answer from the Championship club on the skilful stand-off and admits if a deal is not done by Christmas it is unlikely to happen at all.
Smith wants some more back-up for Jacob Miller and Liam Finn, the Ireland star signed from Castleford Tigers for 2016.
Wakefield have been offered a half-back from Australia who could fit the bill if terms are agreed and the Keyes prospect falls flat.