|SOUTHS' ALEX JOHNSTON SET TO PLAY ALONGSIDE IDOL GREG INGLIS
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Alex Johnston as Greg Inglis in NRL ad
South Sydney's Alex Johnston plays the role of Greg Inglis in the 2009 season launch advertisement - now the 19-year-old may play alongside Inglis after being selected in the Rabbitohs first-grade squad.
Alex Johnston once played the part of a young Greg Inglis in the NRL’s 2009 season advertisement, now he is set to play alongside his idol.
Johnston is on the verge of making his NRL debut after being named in an extended South Sydney squad to play St George Illawarra on Saturday night. He was barely in his teens when he was plucked from obscurity to play the role as Inglis in the NRL’s advertisement. In the ad, a shirtless Johnston catches a bomb and then scores a try before morphing into Inglis.
Like Inglis, the 19-year-old is a rangy outside back who has had a distinguished junior representative career, having played Australian Schoolboys plus representing NSW in their under-16 and under-18 sides.
Alex Johnston playing the role of a young Greg Inglis in a 2009 NRL advertisement.
Alex Johnston playing the role of a young Greg Inglis in a 2009 NRL advertisement. Photo: Screen grab
He scored a HSC ATAR of 91.8 at Endeavour Sports High School in 2012. Since then, Johnston has eased into full-time training with the Rabbitohs and featured in the club’s two pre-season trials plus the Auckland Nines.
Endeavour Sports High School rugby league coach Dave Howlett - who also coaches Cronulla's under-20s side - said Johnston was a rare talent.
“In year 12 he missed significant schooling because he was away with Australian and NSW rugby league teams but he was super organised with his school work and got above 90 in his ATAR,” Howlett said.
Rising star: South Sydney's Alex Johnston
Rising star: South Sydney's Alex Johnston Photo: Jane Dyson
“He was our best player in 2012 but he was still the most committed trainer, dedicated with everything he did and was the same in the classroom. He was well behaved and focused.”
Endeavour finished national runners-up in the fullback’s final year. He joined the sports school's athletics program and then switched to cricket until finding his feet in rugby league in year 10.
“He wasn’t always destined to be a rugby league player,” Howlett said. “He was destined to achieve something though, with his education, athletics, cricket or rugby league.
Alex Johnston playing for the junior Kangaroos in Canberra in 2012.
Alex Johnston playing for the junior Kangaroos in Canberra in 2012. Photo: Melissa Adams
“Our 2012 team overachieved because the good players like AJ loved the school and were really good on and off the field. It created an environment where the best and most talented player was the hardest working and that had a massive effect on the team.
“He has a real connection with where he comes from. He still comes to our school games.”
Johnston played 18 under-20s matches last year for South Sydney in his debut season. The South Sydney junior started this year at that level before being promoted alongside fellow youngsters Cameron McInnes and Aaron Gray into the club’s NSW Cup side, North Sydney.
It is the same approach South Sydney coach Michael Maguire took with Dylan Walker last year before his NRL debut.
The Bears coach Wayne Lambkin said Johnston was performing strongly.
“He is achieving at a fairly high standard for his age,” Lambkin said. “Hopefully 12 months of playing against men in NSW Cup and maybe even a little touch of first grade this year will be nice for his development.
“Madge (Maguire) has moved him into NSW Cup to see if he is going to be any good to him over the next 12 months.
“He is quite intelligent and is certainly a grounded kid. That’s why he is able to take in what’s being coached to him. He is very well mannered and no trouble.
“There are no rough edges to him.”
Johnston, who was named man of the match in the Australian Schoolboys second Test against Great Britain in 2012, has long dreamed about playing alongside Inglis.
‘‘Ideally, I’d love to play first grade with some of my idols,’’ Johnston told Fairfax Media in 2011.‘‘I’d love to play with Greg Inglis. Also Billy Slater, but he is a Queenslander and plays for the Storm, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work.’’
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/souths-alex-johnston-set-to-play-alongside-idol-greg-inglis-20140402-zqpqf.html#ixzz2xpStUtQt