ANYONE would think Wakefield Trinity’s Tom Johnstone is trying to avoid Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting seeing the exciting England hopeful up against one of the men he has eyes on ousting from the international side.
However, ahead of tomorrow’s Magic Weekend contest – a third meeting between the clubs this term – they have still yet to go head-to-head this year.
Johnstone, 22, explained: “I didn’t face him again last week when we played Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup.
“They just keep moving me away from him! I’ve either not played or played on the other side. Hopefully I’ll get to face him on Sunday as it is something you want to do – test yourself against England players.”
Not long back from a knee reconstruction, Johnstone was rested by Chris Chester for the 22-4 win over Huddersfield in March and then switched from his usual left wing to right for that Challenge Cup defeat.
He’s a class act is Jerry, a great player and someone who every team he plays in they use to get on the front foot. It’s going to be tough coming up against him.Tom Johnstone on facing Jermaine McGillvary
He explained: “Ben Jones-Bishop got a knock and they’ve been putting up a lot of kicks to his right wing.
“So I think he (Chester) wanted to put me on the right to contest with those kicks and get involved with what side of things.
“Hopefully I’m back over on the left this time. If so, I’ve got to put in a performance against players like Jerry (McGillvary).
“You are going to come up against them and you must play well as essentially you’re all fighting for that international spot. That’s what I want to do.”
McGillary was a star of the World Cup last year when he was even shortlisted for the Golden Boot as one of the sport’s greatest players.
With Leeds Rhinos’ prolific international veteran Ryan Hall on the other flank, Johnstone – included in Wayne Bennett’s elite performance squad for the first time – knows he has his work cut-out.
“He’s a class act is Jerry, a great player and someone who every team he plays in they use to get on the front foot,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough coming up against him. It will be a hard spot to get. He’s nailed it down and taken every chance he’s been given on the international scene.
“So, it will be hard to get in and get a spot off either of those two as they’ve been in there so long and done so well but hopefully I can do it.”
First, though, Johnstone is out to help Wakefield atone for last week’s bitterly disappointing Challenge Cup exit.
They led 8-6 at half-time but crumbled to lose 24-14.
“We fell apart a bit in that second-half,” admitted Johnstone, with seventh-placed Trinity also struggling for league form.
“We wanted to go out there by any means we could to come away with the win and we worked hard to do so. But then the second period we didn’t complete our sets, finished poorly with kicks and it just wasn’t us that second half.
“We didn’t play to the standards we set ourselves. I think he (Chester) was really disappointed with some of us.
“This is a big chance to put things right.”