Tom Johnstone targets England starting spot after changing his diet

Tom Johnstone Wakefield

Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone is hoping a healthy diet can help him put his concussion issues behind him as he bids to make England’s World Cup team.

The 26-year-old has long been regarded as one of the most exciting wingers in Super League. However, injuries have so far prevented him from realising his full potential. He made only 11 appearances in 2021 due to a series of head knocks.

A visit to a specialist in the close season prompted him to take a long hard look at his body. After ditching junk food and losing a stone in weight, he is hoping to hit the ground running when Trinity open their 2022 campaign against Hull on Sunday week.

He said: “Obviously I had a few scares last year and, at the end of the year, I sat down with the specialist.

“He said everything was heading in the right direction but he looked at me and said he thought I’d put on a few kilos which was true.

“I was nearly 100 kilos – 98 or 99 kilos – which is the heaviest I’ve ever been. He said the more you look after your body, your head will come with it.

“So I did my own plan and went with a nutritionist and a speed coach. I managed to drop myself down to 92 or 93 kilos.”

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Johnstone, who has also cut down on his alcohol consumption, added: “I worked on getting my body composition right and fuelling for a game more.

“When I was a kid I never ate before a game and kept it going when I got into the first team. I’ve been playing on empty and been exhausted.

“Now I’m trying to eat more and eat the right things. I stopped eating junk food, I was quite lazy; and I’m eating new things, incorporating a lot of veg into the diet.

“I never really thought nutrition played that big a part but it’s huge, I was a bit naive really.

“I’m symptom free now and it’s a massive relief. I’m feeling miles better.”

Tom Johnstone wants to be an England starter

Tom Johnstone England

Johnstone looked to have the world at his feet when he scored a hat-trick of tries on his England debut against France in 2018 but it has proved to be his only cap so far.

He says the presence of the delayed World Cup at the end of the season will give him extra motivation to get faster and stronger as he looks to catch the eye of coach Shaun Wane.

Johnstone said: “I’ve been given a bit of lifeline with it being put back a year because there was absolutely no chance I was going to play in it.

“It’s been a goal of mine for the past few seasons to get in Shaun Wane’s eyesight and be in his mind. Now this year it’s getting in his team and being a starting winger, that’s what I want.

“I’m looking for a big year, that’s what I’ve been building towards. Now I have sorted everything off the field, I’ve done what I need to do.”

Wakefield coach Willie Poching is looking forward to seeing a fitter and faster Johnstone in 2022.

He said: “We’ve got to keep him on the field, that’s the big one and he understood that.

“He’s copped a lot of head knocks. He’s tried to work on strengthening himself to try to avoid some of that. He is trying to get himself strong enough not to be man-handled.

“He has worked on his speed and strength. I think we’ll see a better Tom Johnstone this season.”

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