Pioneer to play alongside legend

FORMER Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers hooker Bill Johnston will play alongside All Blacks legend Tana Umaga and premiership-winning Canberra Raiders lock Brad Clyde this month.

The trio will play for the Australian Barbarians against the Australian Police Force at the Mudgee Grassroots Rugby Festival.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will also take the reins for the Barbarians in what should be a formidable outfit.

Johnston won a premiership with the Woollahra Colleagues last season and will play his third game for the Barbarians at Mudgee on March 31.

He says he is looking forward to playing with Umaga more than anything.

"Umaga is one of the best players that the All Blacks have ever had," Johnston said.

"It's a pretty handy team and we're lucky enough to have one of the best rugby league players that's ever gone around too.

"I don't know what to expect but I'll be wearing one sock from Wollongbar and the other onefrom Colleagues on the day."

Umaga retired from international rugby in 2006 and became a player-coach with the powerhouse French side Toulon.

He returned to play for the Chiefs in the 2011 Super Rugby season.

The team also includes former All Blacks No 8 Scott Robertson and NRL convert Ryan Cross.

"George Gregan is on the coaching staff and there will be clinics and golden oldies tournaments," Johnston said.

"It's like a big three-day festival of rugby."

Johnston attended Alstonville High School until 2004 before moving on to play with the Gold Coast Breakers in the Queensland Rugby Union competition.

He was then a member of the Western Force Academy before moving to Sydney.

He played for Eastern Suburbs before eventually finding a home at Colleagues.

"I moved to Sydney and work took over but I'm enjoying my rugby now more than ever," Johnston said.

"Playing in the next Barbarians game is another notch on the belt."

Topics:  all blacks, football, hooker, pioneers, rugby union



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