CHRIS JOHNSON continues to show his massive worth to Huddersfield and passed yet another landmark against Fylde last weekend.
When the talented fly-half intercepted a pass along the League-leaders’ three-quarters line and ran the short distance for his 13 try of the campaign (which he also converted), Johnson topped the 300-points mark for the season in League and Yorkshire Cup.
And with nine League games still to go, plus at least a Cup quarter-final tie against Old Brodlieans to factor in before the end of the season, this has all the hallmarks of a record-breaking season for the 24-year-old stand-off.
And that haul has kept the Lockwood Park ace just behind Caldy’s Richard Vasey as the leading points scorer in the National II North League just nine points behind the leader who has 297 compared to Johnson’s 288.
“I set myself a goal of about 15 tries at the start of this season and I’m very pleased with the way things have been going,” said Johnson.
“Normally Mark Whitehead was the inside man who was on the shoulder of all the breakaways, but since he moved up to the YM a few weeks ago, I’m now getting Whitey’s tries!
“This is certainly by best try-return at Huddersfield, because normally nearly all my points have come from goal-kicking. But I think as a team we have progressed from last season in our style of play, and I am now attacking more because I have trust in the players around me.
“A lot of the credit has to go to our coach Dan Hyde who has influenced my game as much as anyone. For one thing I feel that my temperament has now started to improve, which has helped to improve my game.
“I had great respect for Soggy (previous coach Mark Sowerby), but I think he had probably taken us as far as he could, and the game has changed quite a lot in recent years, and with Dan (Hyde) having played to such a high level up to quite recently, he is more in tune with the change in styles as well as the different plays and moves which has moved the game on.
“Certainly I feel we are a better side than last year, and with just a touch more luck and concentration we could actually be in an even better position, as we should really have won at Luctonians (21-21 draw), at home to Westoe, when we lost 17-16 in the closing stages, and also at home to Hull, when again we lost late in the game 28-23 having been 20-0 up at one time.”
As well as his own game improving, Johnson’s is quick to praise the development of his teammates, who, after a couple of dodgy seasons when they found themselves in the end-of-season relegation fight, have now established themselves as genuine National League players.
“Sharpey (Nick Sharpe) is having a storming season and is really leading from the front since taking over the captaincy, while second rower Gavin Rhodes is playing better than he ever has, and is carrying the ball a lot more.
“And we have such a good bunch of young players, like Tom Owen and Mike Clarke and then we have front rowers like hooker Ben Morrell and Alex Battye who are now competing on a weekly basis with National League props – and they’re still only 20!”
As well as having strength, a deft sidestep and good acceleration, Johnson has also become quite adept at picking off the interception, last week’s effort against Fylde a classic example: “you can sometimes hear the moves being called, and when I heard someone shout M1, I knew where the ball was going next and just anticipated it when it came.”
If Johnson continues to play with the Lockwood Park club then he must surely become the club’s leading pointscorer of all time and can set a fair total for this season (he has already passed his 2006/7 mark of 276 points), should all the games be fitted in – some of them going into mid May.
And that will impact on his summer pastime, for last season he enjoyed some relaxing weekends playing cricket with Rastrick’s Sunday League team.
He chose to play at the Round Hill club as he now lives in Brighouse with his girlfriend and Rastrick is also the club of his teammate and full-back Tom Owen.
“I managed to play about half a season last year, and we didn’t do so bad, as we have one or two decent players, who can’t play Saturday’s because of work commitments. So I’m looking to turning out for them again once we’ve finished the rugby season.”