Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting ENFIELD NEWS to 80360, or email us
Brotherly love out the window as James and Census Johnston fight to win family affair in crunch Heineken Cup clash
As children they used to argue over touch rugby matches in the garden.
When Saracens take on Toulouse at Wembley in the Heineken Cup the stakes may be higher and a 60,000 crowd may be bigger but the brotherly rivalry between James and Census Johnston will still be raging just the same.
“Playing against my brother always inspires me not just to play well but to be the better Johnston,” says 27-year-old James, five years his brother’s junior and recently-signed Saracens prop.
“When we play against each other, you have to be the best Johnston in the family – it’s the battle of the Johnstons and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The Battle of the Johnstons enters its third instalment at Wembley, with the Samoan siblings having already faced off twice before while James was at Harlequins.
The score currently reads 1-1.
“We’re level at the moment so this is a really big one this weekend,” James said.
“It’s a big personal game, a Heineken Cup game at Wembley, it’s a very big occasion for me representing Saracens and the Johnston family as well. Playing against my brother is amazing.
“There’s always been a rivalry – every time we play against each other, it’s an amazing thing. It’s a huge honour for the Johnston family and I can’t wait for it.”
The two brothers played for Auckland side Ponsonby when they were growing up but the age gap meant the times they were on the same pitch together were few and far between.
James arrived in England in 2009 and initially played in Richmond but his size, strength and ball carrying ability didn’t go unnoticed for long and Harlequins snapped him up soon after.
Weighing almost 22 stone, James is one of the heaviest players in the Premiership and, more importantly tonight, almost a stone-and-a-half bigger than Census.
So will James be keeping a special eye out for his brother at Wembley?
“Definitely, my plan is to take him out early on,” James says with a smile on his face.
“A couple of days ago Census called me and he was giving me all this chat about the weekend.
“He keeps saying, ‘You wait, I’m going to come and smash you’ and I’m just like ‘Yeah, yeah, keep talking bro, keep talking’.
“There is definitely a rivalry there but when it comes to the weekend I back myself to come out on top.”
Saracens will be hoping so too.
Toulouse currently lead Pool 3 by a point and whoever triumphs at Wembley will not only have the upper-hand in the return fixture in January, but can take firm control of the group.
James says his family, including four other siblings – two more older brothers and two sisters as well as 15 nieces and nephews - will stay up into the early hours of the morning to watch the game in New Zealand.
James admits with a sigh that his family members will probably be neutral supporters come kick-off but his next of kin know better than anyone the rivalry between the bulky brothers.
Many of them had to step in as referees in those touch rugby games in the garden.
“Census and I played in family matches at home and we always got into arguments because we had no referees and we’d always fight about whether someone had been touched or whatever,” James explained.
“He was the older brother so unfortunately he’d usually have the final say but sometimes if I knew I was right, other family members had to step in and referee.
"It used to get pretty heated.”
Comments are closed on this article.