In just two short years, young defender Alex Johnson has established himself as a key cog in the Swans defensive unit.
Add to his resume a premiership medallion and now the Sydney Swans 2012 Rising Star award, and the 20-year-old’s future is looking very bright in the Harbour City.
Johnson arrived at the Swans in 2011 after being picked up at a modest number 57 in the 2010 AFL Draft.
Upon his arrival, his size and athleticism lent him to both ends of the ground, but Johnson had little experience as a back man after spending the majority of his junior days up forward.
After a gruelling first pre-season with an AFL club, Johnson said he was offered an opportunity to test out his defensive talents in the early rounds of 2011.
“(I became a defender) last year when I got here,” Johnson told SwansTV.
“Throughout pre-season I was still asking Horse (coach John Longmire) ‘What do you think about whether I’m a forward or a back?’ and he (said) ‘We’re still not sure’.”
“I then got my opportunity down back against West Coast in round three last year and I’ve never looked back since - I’m a defender.”
After missing just two games since his debut in the 2011 season, Johnson backed up an impressive first year with a consistent 2012, in which Johnson played every game.
Johnson developed in a role as the club’s third tall defender, and has provided strong contested play within the Swans defensive arc this season.
The former Xavier College student said the team’s season in 2012, and his recent Rising Star honour, has capped off a dream year at the club.
“To (win) the Rising Star award, it’s only been two years since I’ve been at the club and I’m rapt,” he said.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was at a very young age to play AFL and all I wanted to do was get an opportunity.
“When Sydney gave me that opportunity at pick 57 in the Draft I just wanted to grab it with both hands and play as many games as I could and to end up with a premiership this year is a dream come true.”
Johnson said he thoroughly enjoyed playing in the Swans’ back six this season, and said it was the team work within the group that he relished.
“I think we’re a really close-knit group and it’s been sort of reported a lot that we have probably been the most successful defence this year and to keep players like ‘Buddy’ Franklin goalless, Teddy (Richards)puts in a lot of work, but it is also the five guys around him that help him a lot,” he said.
“Whichever six take the field each week, we just help each other out and it’s amazing.”
With so much accomplished in just 45 games at the club, Johnson said he would again be aiming high in the 2013 season.
“My aim for next year would be to repeat the premiership medallion, that’s what I’d love,” he said.
“For me personally, I just will keep on working on areas of my game that I need to work on and going back-to-back would be an absolute dream come true.”