Kristal Johnston began playing rugby league for the Raidettes four years ago and has not looked back.
Kristal Johnston began playing rugby league for the Raidettes four years ago and has not looked back. Jake Jones

Versatile lock ready for challege of tougher league

LEFT without a team to play in after a five year stint of rugby union, Kristal Johnston jumped at the chance to join an emerging group of rugby league players.

An original member of the Gladstone Raidettes, Johnston began with the side three years ago, marking the beginning of women's league locally.

Starting as a humble outfit thrown together, the Raidettes have grown to be a powerhouse, now moving to the Bundaberg league for more challenging matches.

"Rugby league is a little less physical, I started because we ran out of union teams," she said.

"I think Bundaberg will be tougher and we will get more rounds which is good."

Playing at lock mostly, being versatile in her position and moving wherever she is needed, Johnston has also played a bit of soccer, touch football and squash, rating her latest sport by far the best she has played.

Ready to tackle the latest challenge of the tougher league on the back of two undefeated seasons, Johnston is backing the Raidettes to go one better and surprise the Bundaberg teams.

"We are going to take out the premiership, we won the last two so why not," she laughed.

Confident without getting ahead of herself, Johnston is currently completing the pre-season demands of coach Glenn Butcher along with her teammates.

Looking at improving means welcoming new names into the side, especially with the need for a deeper squad list as the increased fixtures are sure to take their toll.

"I reckon we have seven new ones already and I predict a few more too," Johnston said.

"Come on down and have a look, it doesn't hurt and you can have a training session before you commit."



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