Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone has insisted centre and partner-in-crime Bill Tupou belongs on the shortlist for this year’s Man of Steel: but admits he may not get that far due to playing for the unfashionable Trinity.
Tupou is in sensational form this year – form Johnstone believes should be recognised with inclusion in the Super League Dream Team at the very least: an accolade the winger himself may achieve this year.
But Johnstone told League Express that realistically, Tupou is playing that well, he should be considered for the biggest individual honour in the British game.
“He’s the centre of the year,” he said. “If he doesn’t get in the Dream Team.. I don’t know what’s going on.
“He’s set up half of my tries, scored loads himself and it’d be ridiculous if he didn’t make it. I can’t see anyone in the outside backs who’s playing better than him.
“I think he could get into that shortlist (for Man of Steel) too. I don’t know whether I should say this, but because he plays for Wakefield, maybe he’s not in the limelight as much as he would be at other teams, but you only have to look at how he’s playing to see he’s good enough to be considered in the leading bracket.”
Meanwhile, Johnstone insists that even if Trinity have nothing to play for in regards to a late play-off push, he has his own personal motivation: claiming the left-wing spot for England vacated by the injured Ryan Hall.
Johnstone, who was this year named in England’s EPS squad, said: “It’s definitely something in the back of my mind when I’m playing, I know I’m trying to push for that spot.
“It’s a horrible injury Ryan’s had, and I had it last year, but it’s maybe opened up a chance for me and I’ve got to do everything I can to try force my way into the thinking of the coaching staff.”
Meanwhile, Johnstone’s incredible long-range finish during Thursday’s defeat to Wigan took him to 21 tries this season – and he has a clear goal in his sights in the final three rounds of 2018.
“Beating (Ben) Barba would be nice!” he laughed.
“That’s the goal, to finish top try-scorer. We’re a good-ball team too and hopefully the boys can keep helping me get over the line and keep scoring some tries.”