Former Castleford Panthers and Lock Lane junior player Corey Johnson says he and his international teammates know they need to finish the job off this Friday when England Academy take on the Australian Schoolboys at Emerald Headingley, kick-off 7.30pm.
Hooker Johnson was the Leeds Rhinos Academy Player of the Year in 2018 and he has carried on that fine form in the England shirt. England took a one-nil lead in the two game series with their 14-8 win at Leigh on Saturday and can become only the second England side to win a series against the Schoolboys with victory on Friday.
He admitted the enormity of the First Test win was yet to sink in with him.
He revealed, “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, to defeat Australia is a massive achievement. They were very strong, a big physical squad and some of their middles were huge compared to us.
“However, I thought our middles matched them well. Harry Smith kicked very well and we were able to build pressure on their full back. They will be even tougher for us this week and desperate to try to get one over us at Emerald Headingley on Friday.”
Johnson has just finished his first year in the Rhinos Academy having signed for the club twelve months ago from Castleford side Lock Lane.
He only missed two games all season after converting from a half back to hooker, running in 14 tries in 24 appearances. Earlier this year, he agreed a new four year deal that will keep him at Emerald Headingley until at least the end of the 2022 season.
Looking ahead to Friday’s game at Emerald Headingley, he said: “It will be unreal this Friday to be stood there singing the national anthem at my home ground. Hopefully I will get picked and to do it again would be amazing. It has been a great year for me personally. I was able to get some game time with the Under 19s early in the season when our skipper Harvey Whiteley was injured which meant I had to do big minutes and that has helped me massively.
“As an England team, we have spoken about the opportunity we have this week. We can’t fall in love with ourselves after one performance, we need to make sure we have a good week in training and produce our best performance on Friday.
“It is great for the Leeds boys that all the Rhinos first team players and coaches will be there. Everyone will be wanting to impress Dave Furner with a good performance so we can put ourselves in his plans for next year,” added Johnson.
Johnson highlighted man of the match Harry Smith as a key man for England in Saturday’s win at Leigh. Having faced up to the Wigan man in three massive games this season, including the U19 Grand Final, Johnson admits he is glad to be on his team mate now.
He added: “Harry Smith was phenomenal on Saturday, his kicking game was unreal. We played Wigan three times this year and he played well in all those games; it’s great to have him on my side this time.
“Because a lot of us had played against Australia with either Yorkshire or Lancashire, we knew what to expect from some of their players, which helped quite a bit. Getting the win was the best achievement so far in my career, it was massive but this Friday could be even better,” added Johnson.
Tickets are just £5 for adults for this Friday’s game at Emerald Headingley and free for juniors. You can book your ticket now at tickets.therhinos.co.uk or you will be able to pay on the night.