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Johnson: 'I'm glad he's on my team'

Luke McManus  November 8, 2017 5:43 PM

Stevie J's new colours Hear from Steve Johnson as he begins his coaching career at the Swans.
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Steve Johnson is looking forward to working with a forward line spearheaded by Lance Franklin.

I’m looking forward to picking his brain and working alongside him rather than talking about how we’re going to stop him – I’m glad he’ll be on my team for once.

Assistant coach Steve Johnson says he’s thankful he’ll now be spending his time working with, as opposed to working against, the best full-forward in the competition.

Johnson, who clocked on for the first time at the Sydney Swans this week alongside fellow assistant Dean Cox, is already hard at work preparing for the playing group’s November 20 return – particularly the forwards who he’s been charged with overseeing in season 2018.

A classy and explosive forward himself during his time with Geelong and GWS, the 34-year comes with plenty of expertise. Johnson shared his excitement in guiding a “young and talented” outfit, spearheaded by none other than Lance Franklin.

“I’m just really looking forward to getting to know the younger guys and to start working through some things we’ve been talking about over the last couple of days,” Johnson said.

“When everyone thinks of the Sydney forward line, Buddy’s the obvious person (that sticks out).

“I’m looking forward to picking his brain and working alongside him rather than talking about how we’re going to stop him – I’m glad he’ll be on my team for once.

“But I’m also looking forward to working with the entire forward line group. There’s some great young players coming through, as well as players who have been around for a while and formed some solid reputations themselves.”

After 293 games as a Cat and Giant, and with many accolades to his name including three premierships (2007, ’09 and ’11), Norm Smith Medal (‘07) and three All-Australian honours (’07, ’08 and ’10), Johnson feels content knowing he’s achieved and done nearly all there is as a player.

When the opportunity arose to work at the Sydney Swans alongside John Longmire in a coaching capacity, Johnson jumped at the chance to extend his time in football.

“I was certainly content with finishing my playing career and I always thought the pathway for me was to stay in footy and get into coaching,” he said.

“I’m really happy I’ve been given the opportunity to join the Swans, a club I’ve respected from afar for a long period of time. Now I’m just looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Less than two months out from hanging up the boots, Johnson hasn’t had much time to adapt to the rigours and demands of coaching.

He’s already gained a little taste for what’s in store, however, as each of the coaches outline their plans, hopes and goals for 2018 ahead of the playing group’s return.

“It’s not something I’m used to sitting here, looking at a computer screen and have six, seven, eight hours of meetings – it’s a different kind of fitness.

“Dean Cox and I have come on board from different clubs so certainly there are some ideas we have that are different to what the coaches have worked towards in the past and something they’re prepared to take on board.

“Hopefully we all fit in well together and come up with a solid game plan for 2018.”

Johnson and Cox joined the Swans in October, replacing Josh Francou (Adelaide), Henry Playfair (St Kilda) and Stuart Dew (Gold Coast) who took up positions with other clubs.

Brett Kirk and Rhyce Shaw round out the senior coaching panel, while Tadhg Kennelly and Jeremy Laidler come on board as development coaches, joining John Blakey who remains as Director of Coaching and Development.