Tom Johnstone faced “manic” time settling at Catalans Dragons after horrid 2022

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Tom Johnstone is finally settled after making a move to Catalans Dragons (Image: @DragonsOfficiel/Twitter)
Tom Johnstone is finally settled after making a move to Catalans Dragons (Image: @DragonsOfficiel/Twitter)

At times recently, frazzled England winger Tom Johnstone must have felt like he’d hooked up with Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. But now he’s finally properly landed in France, he’s undeniably loving new club Catalans Dragons.

Johnstone can’t wait for the Betfred Super League season after leaving relegation-threatened Wakefield for Steve McNamara’s high-fliers. However, he’s encountered a “manic” time settling in Perpignan due to getting married, two weddings, travel chaos and house upheavals.

Johnstone, 27, explained: “I came out here on November 13th on my own and moved into an unfurnished rental as our house hadn’t sold.

“None of our stuff arrived for another two weeks. I literally had a spare bed and bought a TV! I flew back to the UK on the 30th and our wedding at Bolton Abbey was December 4th. We had a day or two at a spa and set off back to France to get back into training.

“But my missus Leah had only been there five days or so when we had to fly back for my best friend’s wedding in Leeds! I had to ring Steve Mac and beg him to let me go but he was great about it all.”

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Things should have been plain sailing then. But Johnstone, looking to put an injury-wrecked 2022 behind him, said: “We flew to Manchester, setting off at 4am to get to Carcassonne. We weren’t allowed in the airport as it wasn’t open until 7.30am which I’d never heard of. We got delayed again.

Tom Johnstone faced “manic” time settling at Catalans Dragons after horrid 2022Tom Johnstone endured a difficult 2022 (Getty Images)

"Then we had to get a rental car and, obviously, got stuck in standstill traffic for an hour and a half on the trusty M62. I only stayed at the wedding until eight and then headed back to Manchester to stay there. I got up again at 3.30 the next morning to fly back but we got delayed two hours.

“Next, when we tried landing in Carcassonne, the pilot said there was a technical fault so he took us to Toulouse. There they wouldn’t let us off the plane for an hour and a half as other planes had priority so we were sat with our two-year old son who was going mad.”

Tom Johnstone faced “manic” time settling at Catalans Dragons after horrid 2022Tom Johnstone has made a move to Catalans for 2023 (PA)

Johnstone, whose Catalans’ Super League debut is set to be back at Wakefield in their February 17 opener, still saw the funny side. He added: “They eventually put us on a coach back to Carcassonne.

“We were supposed to land there at 11.50am and ended up getting back at 5.30pm. It was a disastrous weekend! Then we had to finally get unpacked and settled so it has been manic outside of rugby.

"But the rugby’s been amazing. I absolutely love it here: the way of life, the club, how everyone is so passionate about it. It feels like home.”

David Craven

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