Johnston hoping to prove himself in new role

The loss of superstar fullback Greg Inglis to a potentially season-ending knee injury left many people assuming the South Sydney Rabbitohs were set for a year of misery in 2017.

But if Saturday's performance against the Sea Eagles is anything to go by, the 2014 premiers won't be going down without a fight, especially if Alex Johnston can make the most of his prolonged run at fullback.

The 22-year-old was instrumental in his side's Round 2 comeback at Lottoland, scoring a second-half double as the Rabbitohs ran out 38-18 victors on the road. 

 

It was a confidence-boosting win not only for the club, but also Johnston who wants to one day be the permanent option at the back.

"I try not to put that pressure on myself. Greg's a great player and I'm really just trying to keep my confidence high and go out each week trying to improve myself from there," Johnston said on Monday. 

"I've played fullback in the past [when Inglis hasn't been there]. He's given me advice about just playing the best game that I can and to not get too nervous and have some confidence."

Johnston has played the majority of his NRL career on the wing, but is set to see out the rest of the year in the No.1 jersey. 

It's a role he played throughout his junior career, but due to Inglis's presence, he has been restricted to nine appearances at fullback, with this weekend's game in Newcastle shaping as just the second time that he's played back-to-back matches in the role. 

Johnston knows there are still areas of his games that he needs to improve, and he believes job security in the No.1 jersey will allow him to do so.  

"Playing fullback compared to the wing, it is a lot different with the number of kilometres that you do when running," he said. 

"It's a lot more physical nowadays with fullbacks getting in the line and those sorts of things. For me it's just trying to get used to that and positionally try to grow and get myself better. 

"At the moment it's just baby steps. I'm just trying to improve on the basics. I think once I get used to it and get a couple of games under my belt, I'll start adding some things.

"I do have that confidence that I can grow into it, but we do have some competition for the spot as well. Really, it's just about performing each week and putting my best foot forward. 

"Hopefully I do have the spot for the year and I'll be looking forward to putting my best foot forward each week and really trying to prove to myself and everyone else that I can play the position."