Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone has shrugged off suggestions there is any extra pressure on his young shoulders in 2017 – adding that if the club don’t make the top eight again next season, it would have to be regarded as a disappointment.
2016 was a breakthrough year for the Trinity winger who, as well as scoring 20 tries in all competitions, was named Super League Young Player of the Year.
And he told League Express this past Monday that despite being tipped by many as a star of the future, he is instead keeping grounded.
“I don’t feel any level of expectation on my shoulders,” he said.
“We’ve had a great pre-season so far and last year is last year. I’ve been working as hard as I possibly can to try and improve and in the back of my mind, I’ve already forgotten about 2016 despite how great it was.
“Myself and the group can’t afford to dwell on that. We want to better ourselves once again; it’d be disappointing if we can’t do the same again as we did last year.”
Johnstone began this season in the way he finished last; scoring a sensational hat-trick as Trinity kicked off their pre-season campaign with a resounding victory at Leeds on Boxing Day.
And with experienced names like Scott Grix and Kyle Wood joining the ranks at Belle Vue in the off-season, Johnstone is confident about the talent the squad possess.
“It makes my job miles easier with the players we’ve got down that spine this season,” he said.
“For me as a youngster to see players like Scott, Sam Williams and Kyle bellowing instructions out is really helpful. Gritty in particular has been great for me as part of a back three, he’s helped my game no end.
“He’ll get on at me if I’m wrong, he’s not afraid to have a go! But then when we’ve got the ball, the skill those guys have make it easier for a winger like myself.”
But despite impressing so much on Boxing Day, Johnstone has warned there is no need to overreact.
“You can’t get too carried away with pre-season because we’ve still got another six weeks to go, but we can build from this: it’s a solid platform to start from.
“We need to be a bit more technical with how we break because we wasted a few chances today, but we’re happy with what we’ve done.”