England ace Tom Johnstone reveals why Wakefield Trinity have bright future after relegation

England winger Tom Johnstone has spoken of his anguish at former club Wakefield Trinity’s relegation, but tipped them to make a rapid return.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Trinity will play in the Betfred Championship next season after finishing bottom of Super League. Johnstone, a product of the Stanningley community club in Leeds, scored 81 tries in 106 Super League games for Wakefield from 2015-2022 before joining Catalans Dragons a year ago.

He admitted Trinity’s plight this year, when they won only four games, “hurt to watch”, but reckons they are building a brighter future under new coach Daryl Powell and owner Matt Ellis. He said: “I was hoping they'd do the magic trick of escaping at the end again.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’ve got a lot of close friends and people that have helped me there and they are happy with rebuilding and starting again. I'm sure they'll do it. I'm looking forward to them coming back a bigger and better team.”

Tom Johnstone scores for England during the first Test win over Tonga at St Helens. Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com.Tom Johnstone scores for England during the first Test win over Tonga at St Helens. Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com.
Tom Johnstone scores for England during the first Test win over Tonga at St Helens. Picture by Olly Hassell/SWpix.com.

Trinity were placed 11th in the preliminary gradings table, which will decide places in the top-flight when it becomes official at the end of next year. A new stand, due to open in pre-season, will boost their score before then and Johnstone noted: “They've restructured.

“The last few years they've probably been hanging on. When I was there we were saying the same and the club was probably crying out for a bit of change. Maybe a couple of us leaving allowed for that to happen and kick started the process. It is definitely looking like it's going in the right direction. There are a lot of good people there who want to get the club back to where it wants to be.”

Johnstone was plagued by injuries during his Wakefield career, but got through his debut season at Catalans unscathed and featured in the Super League Grand Final loss to Wigan Warriors as well all three of England’s Test wins against Tonga.

Read More
France beat England despite Leeds Rhinos players' tries but wheelchair rugby lea...
Tom Johnstone was named in this year's Super League Dream Team. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Tom Johnstone was named in this year's Super League Dream Team. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Tom Johnstone was named in this year's Super League Dream Team. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He was also named in the 2023 Super League Dream Team and shortlisted for the Man of Steel award. He reflected: “I played 32 games, which is unheard of for me. My aim was just to try to get fit and play as many games as possible. That was the main thing for me and it still is.

“I want to play rugby. It's my job, but also my life. It's everything for me, my wife and my kid. To be rewarded with accolades and get to a Grand Final, which is one thing I've always wanted to do since I was a kid, makes this year extra special.”

Johnstone’s England recall and the 3-0 series whitewash was the icing on the cake and he stressed wearing the England jersey “means a lot more this time” than when he won his previous cap five years ago.

“I made sure I enjoyed it a lot more because I was a young, naive kid the last time,” he said. “I probably took it for granted a bit and wasn't good enough to be in the England set-up. I've worked on my game and relished every minute of this series.

Tom Johnstone is tackled during Catalans Dragons' defeat by Wigan Warriors in last month's Super League Grand Final. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.Tom Johnstone is tackled during Catalans Dragons' defeat by Wigan Warriors in last month's Super League Grand Final. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Tom Johnstone is tackled during Catalans Dragons' defeat by Wigan Warriors in last month's Super League Grand Final. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was a tough ride. I had one goal which was to put on the England shirt again and I've accomplished that. I wouldn't change a thing about what's happened. There have been ups and downs, but it has got me where I am.”