On Wednesday Evening Tom Johnstone had a sensational debut for England Rugby League after scoring a hat-trick.
Johnstone, 23, who is a product of the Academy here at Wakefield Trinity got his initial call up to the 21-man Elite Performance Squad for England back in March. Unfortunately he missed out for the Denver test but fast forward seven months and Johnstone was named in Wayne Bennett’s 17-man squad to face France at Leigh Sports Village along with teammate Reece Lyne.
Johnstone told England Media how nervous he was in the lead up to the match, he commented, “My nerves were quite bad at some points leading up to the game. The day felt so long, I just wanted it to come a little bit quicker.
“I had to try and calm myself down and treat it like a normal Super League fixture which is what I am used to week in week out. That sort of worked, I felt more relaxed and I ensured that the moment did not get ahead of me.”
The winger has had a tough 18 months after suffering a rupture to his anterior cruciate ligament in the win over Catalans Dragons back in May 2017 ruling him out for the remainder of the season and sadly ending any hopes of him making the England squad for the World Cup.
He continued, “It was incredible to walk into the dressing room and see my shirt hanging there. I have had some really low times the past 12 to 18 months, so to go in there and see my shirt and then to go out onto the pitch with the boys is rewarding and has made everything really worthwhile.”
It was a dream debut for any player on home soil scoring a hat-trick after just 25 minutes and to go on to beat France 44-06 after an exceptional season at Trinity scoring 24 tries.
“I am absolutely over the moon”, said Johnstone. “I could not have written that any better, I just wanted to go out there and have a regular game and to fit in with the boys. But to score a hat-trick, that is what dreams are made of.
“The French came out and were flying off the line, they put some big hits on us but we tried to control the game and played it at our level which paid off. They put in a good stint and I don’t think the score line reflected the amount of effort they put into the game.
“We trained really well this past week and I think the boys came together really well. I think it showed out there on the pitch some things cooking but there are still a few things we need to work on. That will come in the next week or so when we get the rest of the boys into camp.”
Next up for England Rugby League is New Zealand on Saturday 27th October and Johnstone will be looking at getting the call up for his second England game.
“I feel like I have done everything I can to put my foot in the door. It is really unfortunate that Ryan (Hall) has picked up the injury, I went through that last year and it is a real shame but it does open a good spot for me”, said Johnstone.