Johnston to bide time for No.1 jersey
Rabbitohs winger Alex Johnston has spoken of his decision to end discussions with rival clubs and re-sign with South Sydney for a further three seasons.
The announcement was made last Thursday with both parties agreeing on a deal that will see the former Australian international remain at the club until at least the end of 2020.
With speculation the 22-year-old was set to depart the club with an aspiration to play in the No.1 jersey on a full-time basis, Johnston admitted loyalty got the best of him.
"I was open to other clubs for sure, especially for the fullback position," Johnston said after the side's 36-20 victory against the Titans on Friday night.
"In the end when it came down to it Souths is my home and I was happy to sign with them again.
"We knew that Greg was still here for fullback, at the end of the day I knew I was signing to be a winger."
Johnston admitted there was no guarantee if he signed with a rival club that he would walk straight into a fullback position – a key reason for choosing to stay at Redfern and continue his development alongside an injured Greg Inglis.
"There were talks with other clubs saying there were opportunities but you would have to play well and earn your spot," he said.
"At the end of the day I could bide my time at Souths and get there a bit later. I'll always have that at the back of my mind trying to play fullback and keep growing my game to get there one day."
Remarkably, the Rabbitohs celebrated their first victory on home soil in 2017 in Friday's win over the Gold Coast Titans at ANZ Stadium.
With six tries in his last five appearances in the red and green, Johnston has returned to form and has now crossed for 59 tries from 75 games in the Telstra Premiership – a strike rate of 78.6 per cent.
Fijian pair Semi Radradra (68 tries from 83 games) and Suliasi Vunivalu (34 tries from 34 games) are the only other wingers that have a higher strike rate.
"I love scoring tries and it feels a whole lot better especially after the weeks we've had," he said.
"To do it for 'Sutto' (John Sutton) in his 300th club game as well was awesome."
Despite languishing at 13th on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, a further two points during the bye week will keep Michael Maguire's side in contention for a late finals charge despite a tough run home.
"We need to obviously start off a run," Johnston said.
"We've done that [against the Titans] going into the bye so hopefully now we can get some momentum."