Alex Johnston

Why Johnston is on track to surpass Irvine as game's greatest tryscorer

Fittingly, the star winger, who is proud of his Saibai Island heritage, achieved the feat in Indigenous Round and he later joked that he wouldn't take off his jersey for a week but at just 27 years of age Johnston has more records within reach.

With 147 tries in 178 appearances for Souths, Johnston has the best strike rate of any player since former Dragons winger Nathan Blacklock, who scored 121 tries in 142 matches between 1995 and 2004.

Johnston Embraces Cultures

The big showdown will roar to life as the Indigenous and Maori sides look to do their heritage proud and launch the 2022 season in style.

Johnston made his first All Stars appearance in 2015, the year after helping Souths to premiership glory in his debut NRL season, and he is the now one of the senior members of the Indigenous team with Josh Addo-Carr, Ryan James and Andrew Fifita.

Sonny of a gun: The inspiration behind Johnston's try scoring feats

That’s how the man who last year scored more tries in a season than anyone since 1954 introduces himself in a promotional video for Kari Foundation ahead of his fifth appearance for the Indigenous All Stars at CommBank Stadium on February 12.

Yet for most of his career Johnston had wanted to play fullback and he was almost lost to the Rabbitiohs two years ago because he craved the No.1 jersey while Wayne Bennett believed his best position was wing.

Try, try again: Johnston still perfecting the details of diving for the corner

Set by Les Brennan in 1954, Johnston has equalled his 29 tries in a season – the most of any NRL player this year.

Johnston said try-scoring had become similar to “riding a bike” for him, but the 26-year-old is still looking for ways to improve his skills.

“I want all the tries just to be me catching the ball putting it down, easy as that and I hope it can be like that this week,” he said.

“I’ve blown a couple of tries the last couple of years, so I’ve still definitely got things to work on.”

'Won't take it for granted': Johnston's own fairytale in the works

But rewind to midway through last season and Johnston had all but accepted that he'd have to reluctantly leave his beloved Rabbitohs.

If not for some eventual salary cap manoeuvring, the 26-year-old wouldn't have topped the try-scoring list for a second straight season in 2021. Nor would he be vying for a second premiership on Sunday.

It might be overshadowed by potential fairytale departures for Wayne Bennett, Adam Reynolds and Benji Marshall, but Johnston will have his own feel-good story if South Sydney trump Penrith.

Johnston feeling 2014 vibes with Rabbitohs belief sky-high

Johnston starred on the wing for the Bunnies in his rookie season in 2014 and seven years later he's now a leader at the club looking to send off Wayne Bennett and several of his teammates on the right note.

Last week's 16-10 upset win over the Panthers was a breakthrough effort from Bennett's side and earned them their first week off in a finals series since their last grand final appearance.

The Rabbitohs will play either the Sea Eagles or Roosters in week three as they eye their second grand final in 50 years.

minor injuries rule out Johnston and De Belin

Team Manager, John Wilshere, said both players will be resting niggling injuries they both carry.

In a media conference Wilshere said both players will not be joining the squad.

“Due to some of the injures they carried through the (NRL) finals they wont be joining the squad because it will them an opportunity to rest and recover for their respective clubs ready for 2019,” he said.

Wilshere said so far the mood camp has been good with the players who joined earl whilst waiting for the rest of squad from overseas.

Walker, Johnston star for revamped Rabbitohs

After blowing Manly away late in a runaway 38-18 win at Lottoland on Saturday afternoon, the two best pieces of news for Souths fans were the reinvigorated forward pack – which seemed to benefit from the return of George Burgess despite one costly error – and the immediate spark generated between fullback Alex Johnston, five-eighth Cody Walker, halfback Adam Reynolds and dummy-half pair Robbie Farah and Damien Cook. 

Johnston wants Rabbitohs' No.1 long-term

Johnston – after a two-month absence – made his return at fullback for South Sydney in their last-start win over the Eels with usual custodian Greg Inglis shifting to five-eighth.

Inglis, who earlier in the week expressed his comfort in the halves, was rather impressed with the 21-year-old's return but wasn't sure what the future holds for either man. 

"He played well. I've always said he had the talent to do it and he's a future fullback for sure," Inglis said.