South Sydney have fended off interest from rival clubs to retain speedster Alex Johnston on a three-year extension which will keep him at Redfern until the end of 2020.
The former Australian representative had been linked with a move to St George Illawarra as a possible replacement for Cronulla-bound Josh Dugan.
However, the Rabbitohs won the race to retain the 22-year-old outside back – the club’s top try-scorer for three years running.
“I’m really happy to have the contract sorted out and to know I will be a Rabbitoh for at least the next three years is a great thing,” Johnston said.
“In the end, it was the best decision for me to stay and to build on what we’ve established since 2014 when I made my debut.
“It’s always a privilege to pull on that South Sydney jersey and I’m glad that I know I will be doing that for at least the next three years.”
Johnston shapes as an important part of coach Michael Maguire’s plans for the 2018 season, with uncertainty looming about Greg Inglis’ place in the side.
Inglis is recovering from a season-ending knee injury and is tipped to move to centre to better preserve his body in the twilight of his career.
Johnston is a potential option for the No.1 jersey along with playmaking utility Cody Walker.
“Alex is establishing himself as one of the leading outside backs in the competition and one of his greatest attributes is his willingness to learn,” Maguire said.
“His work on the wing is right up there with some of the best wingers in the game.
“He’s a South Sydney junior who has proven himself to be a potent try-scorer.”
Johnston has 57 tries from 74 NRL games since debuting against Brisbane in round eight in 2014.
South Sydney have fended off interest from rivals to retain high-scoring utility back Alex Johnston for a further three NRL seasons.
The 22-year-old will remain at Redfern until at least the end of 2020.
Johnston has scored 57 tries in the first 74 games of his NRL career and been the Rabbitohs’ leading try-scorer every season since making his first grade debut in April 2014.