Souths flyer Alex Johnston has offered perhaps the most telling insight yet into his contract stand-off with the Rabbitohs, revealing he’s likely to walk from his life-time club come season’s end.
Johnston was sensational in Souths’ 32-24 Indigenous Round comeback victory over the Dragons, scoring a dazzling hat-trick to emphatically up his NRL stock.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for the 25-year-old in red-hot form as he searches for a new club, with his deal at Souths coming to an end at the end of the season and an apparent impasse reached with the Bunnies.
Speaking at full-time, the winger laid it all bare as he openly shopped himself on the NRL market and signaled an end to his time at the club where it all began.
“I’m a local junior and I’ve always maintained that I always wanted to stay at Souths,” Johnston told Macca’s Golden point. “But at the moment it’s not looking likely.
It’s believed talks have broken down between Johnston and the Bunnies over a disagreement over money and playing position.
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler said the pattern had become an increasingly common trend in the modern game.
“I’m sure they don’t want him to leave and he doesn’t want to leave,” Fittler said.
“Gus explained it earlier…around salary caps and asking for certain amounts of money and maybe not that type of money for that type of position. That’s sort of the trend.
“People talk about fullback money. Josh Dugan when he was leaving St George, the discussion was about the position and how much money comes with a certain position, and that’s why everyone wants to be a fullback now, because apparently they get better money.”
Coach Wayne Bennett was his usual stonewall when pressed on the matter after the match, but indicated the club wanted to retain their hat-trick hero.
“I don’t think any of us want him to leave the club, but like everybody in the game we’ve got a salary cap and we’ve got to fit everybody in.”
Parramatta icon Peter Sterling, however, was more than won over by the Souths speedster’s pitch, as he highlighted how invaluable pure-bred scorers like Johnston were to a team.
“If you are a complete finisher like Alex Johnston is, you are worth your weight in gold as a winger,” Sterling said.
“They’re just these players who have a knack of getting the football over the line. If the try is on, they’ll score it.”
South Sydney Rabbitohs, St. George Illawarra Dragons, National Rugby League, Cody Walker, Alex Johnston
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