GREG JOHNSON is hoping a season at Batley Bulldogs will help prolong his Huddersfield Giants career.
The 20-year-old Newsome-based winger will move to Mount Pleasant – along with Elliot Hodgson – for the 2011 Co-operative Championship campaign on a dual registration.
Jamaican international Johnson has the chance to impress his new club when he lines up for the Giants in Sunday’s pre-season clash at the Bulldogs (2.00).
He is hoping to make an impact to stake a claim for a starting spot in coach Karl Harrison’s side – and ultimately prove to Giants chief Nathan Brown that his long-term future lies at his hometown club.
“This is a huge game for me,” admitted Johnson.
“I’m going out there looking to impress both sets of coaches and that’s going to put extra pressure on me, but I’m confident in my own ability and I’m excited about the challenge I’ll be facing.
“I’m also excited about joining Batley, because this is my chance to test myself at a higher level. Nathan (Brown) knows what I can do at Under 20s level and he’s now keen to see if I’m capable of handling myself in the Championship, which is a step up.
“But I’ll only get the chance to do that if I make a positive impression on Karl (Harrison) and he picks me for his first team. That means I’ve got to play well this weekend.
“I love it here at the Giants and being a full-time player, but I know that if I don’t do well at Batley this year I might not earn another contract at Huddersfield. This really is a massive year for me, and Sunday is a very first important step.”
The winger made his Jamaica debut in last autumn’s Atlantic Cup competition in Jacksonville, Florida.
Playing at centre, Johnson grabbed a try in the 32-12 triumph over Canada, but couldn’t prevent his side suffering a 36-26 defeat to hosts America.
Also included in the Jamaica squad were former Giants Paul White and Alex Brown.
And even though his adopted nation didn’t return home with the Atlantic Cup, Johnson is hoping this experience was a taste of things to come.
“Going on a tour like this was amazing, and I hope it’s just the start,” said Johnson.
“It’s definitely given me an extra spring in my step and really makes all the hard work you put in during training seem far more worthwhile.
“If it hadn’t been for my involvement in the game I’d have never been to America on a trip like this.
“Playing for Jamaica was a very proud moment, and I hope the game and the team continues to get even stronger.
“I’d love to be involved again.”
Rugby league is a sport that is starting to grow in Jamaica.
The Jamaica RL Association was established in July, 2004 and the inaugural season kicked-off the following year.
The competition opened with four teams, the Olympic Angels, Vauxhall Vultures, Jamaica Defence Forse and the Duhaney Park Sharks, and since then the Jamaica Constabulary Force Knights and Montego Bay Cobras have come on board.
So far, the JRLA have hosted the West Yorkshire Police RL (2006) and the Royal Air Force RL (2008) and in 2007 Jamaica sent their first representative side to compete against the Jacksonville Axmen in Florida.
A delegation was sent to the UK in 2007 on a fact-finding mission and a Development Officer was appointed in 2009.
And in 2008, the JRLA was granted Affiliate Membership and International status by the RL International Federation.