Tom Johnstone: Wakefield Trinity coach Willie Poching comments on speculation linking star winger with Super League rivals Catalans Dragons

Wakefield Trinity coach Willie Poching has commented on speculation linking their star winger with a move away from the club.

By Peter Smith
Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:45 pm

Catalans Dragons have confirmed they are keen to sign Johnstone, whose Trinity contract expires at the end of this season.

He has also been attracting interest from clubs in the NRL, but Poching insisted Trinity have not given up hope of the 26-year-old remaining with them beyond this season.

“We will try our best,” Poching said of their prospects of holding on to the prolific finisher who has scored 81 tries in 106 Betfred Super League appearances since joining Trinity from the Stanningley community club in Leeds.

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Tom Johnstone is wanted by Catalans Dragons. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“When you have fantastic players like Tom it is no surprise they become of interest to other people.

“That’s natural and it’s a bit of a compliment to us as a club that people outside this organisation fancy the players we have in our group.”

Poching added: “He has been a fantastic player for our club and a fantastic servant and I’d definitely like to keep him.

“But if it’s not to be and he decides to move on, he will go with my and the club’s blessing for what he has done here.

“That’s the nature of the sport and the business.”

Poching said he is in “constant dialogue” with Johnstone and other players in the final year of their contract.

“Hopefully they come to the right decision for themselves and their families,” he added.

The coach accepts keeping - and attracting - players will be easier once Trinity have secured their place in the top-flight for next year.

They have lost their last five games - four of them in Super League - and are second from bottom in the table, four points clear of Toulouse Olympique who they visit tomorrow in a relegation four-pointer.

“It’s important,” he said of avoiding the drop as quickly as possible.

“They [transfer targets] want to come to some security, don’t they?

“That is a piece of the puzzle we have to try and fix and that starts on Sunday.”

Poching is not playing down the importance of the match in France.

“It’s a big game, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

But he insisted: “We have prepared really well for it.

“We understand the danger and how hard the task is.

“Nobody has had an easy game at Toulouse and we know it is not just about giving a performance - we are going to have to give our best performance this weekend.”

Trinity are without suspended captain Jacob Miller, but Rob Butler, a new signing from Warrington Wolves, could make his debut and Liam Hood, Lee Gaskell, Brad Walker and Yusuf Aydin are all in contention after not featuring against Huddersfield.

Daniel Alvaro, a prop signed from St George-Illawarra Dragons, is set to make his first appearance for Toulouse.

Toulouse Olympique: from Jussaume, Marcon, Albert, Navarrete, White, Hansen, Dixon, Marion, Pelissier, Puech, Garbutt, Cunningham, Bergal, Hankinson, Springer, Sangare, Russell, Ashall-Bott, Stefani, Gigot, Alvaro.

Wakefield Trinity: from Jowitt, Johnstone, Lyne, Lino, Hood, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Pitts, Crowther, Whitbread, Batchelor, Gaskell, Kay, Walker, Aydin, Bowes, Murphy, Hall, Butler, Fifita.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes).

Kick-off: Sunday, 2.30pm UK time.