Johnston returns


PAPUA New Guinea Kumuls fullback Alex Johnston will return from a hamstring injury for South Sydney’s round-23 National Rugby League fixture against Penrith Panthers at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night (8.05pm kick-off).
The 26-year-old speedster missed the last four rounds after suffering the injury in his side’s round-18 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs last month.
But despite the setback, Rabbitohs chief executive Blake Solly told The National yesterday that he was confident that Johnston would continue his try-scoring form for the remainder of the season.
He said the winger was still within reach of becoming the first player in 67 years to score 30 or more tries in one season.
“If Alex can make a successful return and find the try-scoring form he had before he was injured, he can certainly break that record,” Solly said.
“He has worked hard to return from injury and it would be a great reward for his efforts to have his name go down in the history books.”
The 2014 premiership winner has so far scored 24 tries from 17 games this season.
Meanwhile, Solly said former Panther Josh Mansour would remain on one wing with Jaxson Paulo making way for Johnston.
“Paulo dropped out of the team for this week’s game,” he said.
“He (Paulo) did a fantastic job while he was in the team and it shows the wonderful depth we have in our squad.”
Solly said the clash against the second-placed Panthers was crucial to their campaign as well as a shot at the minor premiership.
“All games are important, particularly at this stage of the season,” he said.
“Whether we finish second or third has no material difference as it appears there will be no home ground advantage.
“However, a minor premiership would be a great reward for the team’s efforts throughout the year.”