Tom Johnstone using England absence as motivation to become Wayne Bennett’s first-choice winger

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Tom Johnstone has vowed to improve his game as he reflected on missing out on a place in the England side that faced New Zealand last autumn.

Having scored 24 tries in as many Super League appearances last year, Johnstone bagged a hat-trick on his England debut in their Test match against France.

However, England coach Wayne Bennett chose not to select Johnstone in any of their three games against the Kiwis, instead sticking with Tommy Makinson and Jermaine McGillvary as his first-choice wingers.

The Wakefield flyer concedes he was initially gutted at the decision but has since come to use it as a source of inspiration for 2019.

“At the time, not making it into the side did knock me a little bit,” Johnstone told loverugbyleague.com.

“It was a bit disappointing not to play in the Test series, but I understand the reasons why and there’s plenty I can take away from the experience and that I can improve upon this year to hopefully get another shot.

“I realised that I wasn’t to the level that I should be, even though I came out of the league season on a real high. The experience has given me that drive to improve and hopefully I can do that this season.

“Going to an international was a big step up from Super League. Personally, I thought the France game went well for myself, but it was against France and not the Kiwis who are on another level.

“For me to get to that level I’ve still got a bit more to do. It was a bit of shock as to how good the training was. I’ve got plenty to take away from the experience and to practice on this season.”

And having had a taste of international action, Johnstone would like to see more international rugby league played throughout the calendar year.

“It would be great to have more international rugby league on the calendar,” he added.

“It’s something that happens in football with set international breaks throughout the year, so that would be a good thing to bring into rugby league to improve the international game.

“The France match was an amazing experience and it made those last dark 18 months of trying to get through the injury worthwhile. To be able to get the hat-trick was a real reward from all that effort.”

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