Man of Steel nominee Tom Johnstone reveals motivating factor behind incredible season

Catalans Dragons winger Tom Johnstone has spoken of the troubles he has faced in recent years, and how that has been a driving factor for him this season. 

Speaking on Sky Sports Rugby League Verdict, the former Wakefield Trinity man initially reacted with shock when informed by presenter Jenna Brooks of his nomination: “Wow! Really!?!”

He detailed how previous injuries had helped motivate him to such a successful season, his first with Catalans having moved from Wakefield Trinity.

“I don’t want to sound like I’ve had a lot of troubles, but the off seasons, I don’t usually take that much time, I recover from injuries and come back for the next year to play again; so to actually stream a full season of games together feels amazing.”

He added: “I’ve tried working really hard with a lot of good people behind the scenes and for it to come together and click, it’s something that I’ve been working for the past four or five years really.”

Johnstone has struggled with injuries in the past; however 2023 has been a fantastic debut season for him in the South of France following his move from Wakefield Trinity. He is Super League’s joint top try-scorer, notching an impressive 27 tries, and has seen himself named both in the Super League Dream Team and on the Steve Prescott Man of Steel shortlist.

Sky Sports presenter Jon Wilkin was quick to heap praise on the Englishman, saying: “Tom, obviously, is known for his try scoring so what he’s done this year is delivering in that regard, he’s got a bucket full of tries in a very prolific Catalans team, but it’s not that that I think it’s the reason that Tom’s nominated. He does all the other bits of the game well that people might not understand is he carries the ball strongly out of yardage, his work rate’s incredibly high and defensively he’s been really tidy.”

The Dragons are just one win away from the Super League Grand Final, and Johnstone highlighted the French side have their eyes firmly set on Old Trafford glory. “From day one, [winning the Grand Final was] what the goal, the objective has been for the team. We’ve said all along this year that we’ve come to win it. That’s something that, personally, I came to Catalans to win the competition. So, for us, anything other than winning the Grand Final is not good enough.”