NEVER SAY DIE: Josh Johnston played his first game for the Capras in two years and will line up for Norths in the grand final clash with Brothers this weekend.
NEVER SAY DIE: Josh Johnston played his first game for the Capras in two years and will line up for Norths in the grand final clash with Brothers this weekend. Chris Ison ROK220817cleague1

Charging on: This once-luckless forward is making up for lost time

RUGBY LEAGUE: Luck is a funny thing in sport. With it a blessing, without it a curse.

In Josh Johnston's case, the luck that has deserted him for the better part of two seasons has finally returned.

After two hit and miss seasons plagued by injury, the 21-year-old has been forced jump more hurdles than most. A broken hand cost him the start of 2016, then on-going concussions saw him miss more games. This season saw him snap tendons in his ankle and miss the entire pre-season.

He was a regular Capra in 2015, last year was supposed to be his coming of age season, 2017 was supposed to re-enforce it.

 

Now the hard-working popular forward is making up for lost time.

"The injuries have made me understand that I am still young and that I have a lot of learning to do," the Emerald Tigers junior explained.

"I might of missed a lot of games at Q-Cup level, but I have been lucky enough to play a lot of local league.

"Every game I want to be the best player on the field. That was my little goal for the year."

Be it his never-give-in attitude, fearlessness or team cohesion, Johnston was rewarded with his first Intrust Super Cup call-up in over two years at the weekend.

It might not have been a game to remember for the team, but for Johnston, pulling on the maroon and blue was the culmination of his hard work.

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Prior to Saturday's match, Johnston was worried he wouldn't be up to it. The fear of failure kicked in.

"I was trying to hold it back and I slept well the night before but the nerves hit me right before kick off," he laughed looking back.

"The speed was a lot quicker but I kept trying. To get 30 minutes was unreal, it was so good to get back out there.

"I was worried I wouldn't be up to it. But I didn't feel out of place. I thought I'd fall off tackles and get dominated, but it didn't happen.

"I thought I went really well, I was actually surprised. My defence wasn't perfect but I was happy with how I went."

 

Capras coach Kim Williams.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Capras coach Kim Williams.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK140916acapras1

One-on-one sessions with Kim Williams has helped get him back to peak form.

"I've been speaking with Kim who said told me to be a bit more aware of what is happening," he said.

"The small attention to details, getting the wrestling techniques right. Sometimes I go through the motions but when fatigue kicks in I get behind a bit.

"Defending the repeat efforts under fatigue is really difficult."

 

Josh Johnstone will be playing for Norths in the grand final clash with Brothers this weekend.
Josh Johnstone will be playing for Norths in the grand final clash with Brothers this weekend. Chris Ison ROK220817cleague2

Despite all the waves of turmoil, Johnston is not one to complain. It's not part of his DNA, the ever-smiling man just puts his head down and gets in the grind as they say.

Knowing all too well how much effort he has put in to make it back, Johnston's phone was flooded with well-wishers prior to Saturday's game.

In a fitting final game of the season, Johnston will strap up this weekend for Norths, who tackle Rockhampton Brothers in the grand final.

His nerves will only heighten between now and kick off.

"It would be unreal, everyone has been playing so well, we are so hungry and competitive," he said of his squad.

"It would be awesome for all the old fellas and Kane Hardy.

"Brothers are a phenomenal team who keep defying the odds, we have to prepare well and play our best. I can't wait."



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