A night which initially appeared to be set for disappointment turned into a special occasion, as Alex Johnston notched a hattrick during South Sydney’s 44-18 victory over Wests Tigers. The treble crowned him as the greatest try-scorer in Rabbitohs’ history.
The record was previously held by fellow flyer Nathan Merritt, until the 10th hattrick of Johnston’s career transformed him from favourite son into an all-time legend of the club with 147 tries.
Asked for his thoughts on his incredible feat after the game, the winger joked how it was just “special to be part of the press conference.”
South Sydney were put on the backfoot early when they conceded the first two tries of the game.
As they toiled in attack and allowed the Tigers to build a 12-0 lead, you would have been given long odds for predicting the type of celebratory night this eventually turned into.
It was Johnston himself who opened the scoring for his team with a trademark dash to the corner. However, he’d have to wait until 10 minutes into the second half before he notched another.
The record-breaking try came courtesy of Campbell Graham’s sharp work down the edge. And Johnston was only too happy to share what happened in the immediate aftermath of that play.
“I knew and Campbell Graham inside me knew as well,” Johnston said.
“When he passed me the ball for the last try, he just started screaming history! Record! I think he was more pumped than I was.
“It just goes to show the type of team and teammates we have here. We all care and love each other and I’m just so thankful to be a part of it.”
— NRL (@NRL) May 28, 2022
It certainly wasn’t lost on the 27-year-old how close he came to having to exit the club. He credited the fans for voicing their displeasure with the Rabbitohs’ hierarchy about potentially letting him go.
“I don’t want to play in any other colours and to score 147 in the red and green it means a lot to me and my family,” he said.
“Obviously we all know what happened a few years ago, I was almost not here.
“There was a petition going around and a lot of fans signed and I like to think the top dogs had a look at that and saw we might need to keep this bloke.
“I’m very thankful for the fans for doing that and it all worked out, as you can see.
“I think I’ve got plenty more tries to go to pay them back.”
— NRL (@NRL) May 28, 2022
South Sydney turned on the style in a second half which saw them trample over the top of Michael Maguire’s men.
They piled on 32 unanswered points in a half of footy that showcased the side’s potential if they keep hold of the ball and show patience in attack.
“It is good to finally get over the hump and get it [the try-scoring record] done. Hopefully, we keep playing like a team like we did tonight and I will score more tries if we are flying,” Johnston said.