Tom Johnstone is moving to the south of France to protect his knees from the mud and snow of pre-season training in Yorkshire, to embrace a new culture, and to pick up a Super League Grand Final winner’s ring.
The 27-year-old former Wakefield Trinity and England international winger is hoping that the firm pitches of Perpignan will put a spring in his step as he seeks to achieve his greatest career ambition.
“I’ve got one main goal – to win a Grand Final,” Johnstone told League Express.
Johnstone is currently on a Greek island recovering from the groin injury that ruined his chances of a fond farewell to his friends and supporters at Belle Vue.
He will link up with his new club Catalans Dragons in November following a stellar ten-year stint at Trinity, which saw him hit the heights with some of Super League’s most spectacular tries, and the lows with a string of injuries (including two ACL season-enders) which he hopes are now behind him.
He said: “I’ve been absolutely devastated that I couldn’t finish my time properly at Wakefield and play out the season. I’ve had some really down days and weeks of sulking watching the team play.
“I’ve seen team-mates play their final games for the club and I really wanted to be a part of that, to thank the fans and the club and get a proper send-off.”
Johnstone admits the switch will take him out of his comfort zone, which he welcomes.
“I’m just a lad from Bramley who likes to play rugby and I’m moving to the south of France to go and play rugby and live the dream,” he said.
“I’m nothing special, but I’m just excited to be given the opportunity and I want to show my gratitude on the pitch.
“I want to start afresh, meet new people, and you can’t do that any better than at a club in a different country with a different culture and mindset.
“I’ve spent eight-to-ten years in the same spot and you can get too comfortable and relaxed sometimes.
“I’ve been unlucky with injuries in the past and that’s one thing I am keen to put behind me. I’m hoping the good weather will help too, when it’s cold pre-season my knees and everything else aches.
“Running on sloppy pitches isn’t good for you and training in the snow isn’t much fun, I never enjoyed that.
“On recovery days after a match what could be better than going down to the beach for some Vitamin D?
“I think it’ll work wonders and I’m looking forward to a new me in Super League next year.”
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