South Sydney flyer Alex Johnston has revealed a team trainer was responsible after he narrowly missed out on a club record six-try haul in their demolition of Penrith on Sunday.
Johnston put in one of the most memorable individual performances of the NRL season as he ran in five tries in the seven-tries-to-two rout.
He fell agonisingly short of setting a new record for the foundation club after on several occasions missing out on a sixth four-pointer.
“They were looking for me,” Johnston said cheekily.
“There was one time when our trainer came on, Benny Gardiner is his name. I want to quote his name because he told me to go to the middle to look for it and the ball went out to where it should have been and I wasn’t there.
“I’m a bit off him at the moment.”
On another occasion Johnston was denied by the video referees after Tyrell Fuimaono knocked on in the lead up.
Had he crossed for a sixth, he would have been the first player to achieve the feat in a premiership match since Newtown’s Jack Troy in 1950.
Instead he will have to be satisfied with sharing the Rabbitohs club record with Nathan Merritt, Eric Sladden, Ian Moir, Johnny Graves, Don Manson, Alan Quinlivan and Harold Horder.
“I didn’t know if it was a record or anything,” Johston said.
“I was just pumped, I scored five, I was keeping count all game.
“I was like ‘come on, pass it to me, one more, one more, give me one more’. To equal the club record, Merritt scored five as well, is pretty special.”
The try-scoring rampage took his season tally to 15 and moved him ahead of Canberra’s Jordan Rapana and Melbourne’s Suliasi Vunivalu to the top of the competition try-scorer list.
He said it was his biggest bag of tries since he first strapped on a pair of boots 13 years ago.
“Not since under 9s, my first year playing,” he said when asked if he’d ever scored five.
“Back then I used to run around everyone, it was pretty easy.
“They made it easy for me out there tonight, the boys, just giving me some good ball.”
SCORING A HANDFUL BAG
Five try hauls by South Sydney players:
* Alex Johnston v Penrith, ANZ Stadium, Round 17, 2017
* Nathan Merritt v Parramatta, ANZ Stadium, Round 22, 2011
* Eric Sladden v Parramatta, Cumberland Oval, Round 16, 1957
* Ian Moir v Parramatta, Redfern Oval, Round 7, 1957
* Johnny Graves v Eastern Suburbs, Redfern Oval, Round 14, 1949
* Don Manson v University, Sports Ground, Round 1, 1937
* Alan Quinlivan v University, Earl Park, Roundd 9, 1936
* Harold Horder v North Sydney, RAS Sydney Showground, Round 12, 1917
* Harold Horder v North Sydney, RAS Sydney Showground, Round 5, 1917