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Like a broken record: Johnston trying for all-time Bunnies benchmark

Freshly re-signed winger Alex Johnston is targeting 100 tries for the club before setting his sights on Nathan Merritt's all-time Rabbitohs record – but jokes he'll need to worry about getting one more first.

The 25-year-old try-scoring sensation this week penned a two-year contract extension, admitting he came very close to joining the Storm and ended up taking less money to stay at the club he loves.

With 97 tries in 138 games, there is no telling what records Johnston may reach.

But speaking after the 26-24 win over Wests Tigers on Thursday, he was more concerned with his embarrassing no-try effort when he dropped the ball over the line with the game in the balance.

"Thank God I signed it [the new deal] yesterday!" he laughed.

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"I'm stuck for two more years, they can't get rid of me now."

He said he may have been celebrating too early when the 71st-minute chance slipped from his grasp with the line open.

"Everything was going through my head and I just took my eyes off the ball. It won't happen again, thank God we won the game in the end."

With his future settled, Johnston can turn his focus to the three tries he needs to hit triple figures before aiming to add 50 to his current tally to overtake Nathan Merritt's 146 in cardinal and myrtle.

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"Let's just focus on getting one more try, just getting the ball down. Then getting to 100 this year and keep going," he added.

"Nathan Merritt's got the record at the club. After I get to 100 that's the next [goal] for me. Three more. I just have to catch the ball and put it down. Hopefully I can do that in the next few games."

Johnston spent most of this year believing it would be his last at his cherished club, with the Storm the most likely destination; however a desire to stay in Sydney and an eventual offer from Souths allowed him to re-sign.

"It means everything. It means I can keep playing for Souths. I love the club, I have come through the system the whole way," he said.

"Melbourne was the club I was most likely going to. I was very close to going, they are a very professional club. I spoke to them all on Zoom and I liked what they had to say. All respect to them, I liked what they had to say.

"But when Souths come to the table I just wanted to stay in Sydney with family. I had to take that offer to stay at the club.

"For almost the whole season I thought I had to leave. Very grateful the opportunity came where I got an offer and stoked to sign it and keep going.

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"I was pretty stressed the whole year. At first I was pretty gutted. And then I thought you know what? I'm going to have to move. Which made it so much sweeter actually signing to stay for two more years. I'm pretty happy now."

Johnston did not want to get into the specifics of the deal, but conceded he could have earned more money elsewhere.

"It was a bit unders, but that was the sacrifice to make to stay with the club and with family," he said.

Johnston has made no secret of his desire to play fullback, and had to play second fiddle this season not just behind star signing Latrell Mitchell but now up-and-comer Corey Allan following Mitchell's season-ending injury – but said he has now come to terms with staying on the wing.

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He was overwhelmed when his re-signing was announced in the dressing room by coach Wayne Bennett, and by the response of his teammates, which Bennett outlined in his pre-game press conference.

"I wasn't expecting it at all," he said.

"I didn't even know Wayne was going to announce it to the boys. And then all of a sudden he goes, 'AJ is staying for two years'.

"And all of a sudden the boys were on top of me slapping and cheering. I almost choked up a bit with that reaction. It just made me that bit happier to stay."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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