St Helens v Wakefield Trinity: Johnstone jumps at chance to face rival
AS HE prepares to face one of his England rivals, Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone insists there are no hard feelings.
Johnstone is a member of England’s elite performance squad, but was not selected for last Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Denver.
Instead, coach Wayne Bennett handed a debut to Tommy Makinson, who will line up for St Helens at home to Trinity tonight.
“It was a bit gutting not to be involved,” Johnstone admitted.
“I just feel like I just need to kick on and carry on with what I am doing and try and get to where I want to be.
“I don’t feel personally I have played better than Tommy Makinson, I think he has been absolutely awesome this year so all credit to him to get that cap.
“I just need to keep working hard and hopefully I can push towards the end of the season and get in then.”
Saints have had two weeks to prepare for tonight while Trinity were in action, in sapping heat, five days ago.
They had a recovery session straight after last Sunday’s 44-22 win over Widnes Vikings and Johnstone is confident Trinity are going to Saints in good shape.
He said: “Hopefully we can go over there pretty fresh and lift ourselves for a good performance. It’s going to be a tough game. We will go there with a good mental attitude, try and stick to our game plan and see how we go.”
Saints will be fired up for revenge after their 24-20 defeat at Wakefield two months ago.
“They came here expecting a win,” recalled Johnstone, who did not play in that match.
“We can go there, put everything on the table, put in our best performance and hopefully push on for the top-five.
“On our day we are confident we can beat anyone.
“When the weather’s good we know we are going to score points, it’s just all about working on our defence.”
Trinity conceded 22 points in the second half against Widnes and Johnstone admitted: “We were really pleased with the first half, but disappointed at the end of the game.
“It turned into a bit of you score, we score in that second half.
“It’s not good enough, it’s not what we’re about and we weren’t pleased with it.
“We’ve worked on it and we’re going to fix it up.”
Trinity captain Danny Kirmond suffered a knee injury last week and Chris Annakin is set to step in tonight.
Mason Caton-Brown, who did not play against Widnes, retains his place in the initial 19 and Liam Finn is in contention for a recall.
The St Helens side will be selected from the 17 who beat Leeds Rhinos two weeks ago, plus Matty Smith and Jack Ashworth.
St Helens: from Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Smith, Roby, Taia, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Thompson, Peyroux, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Ashworth, Barba.
Wakefield Trinity: from Annakin, Arona, Ashurst, Batchelor, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Finn, Hampshire, Hirst, Johnstone, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, Lyne, Miller, Pauli, Randell, Tupou, Wood.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.45pm.