GWS are banking on Steve Johnson’s edgy playing style to help make the difference as they aim for their first AFL finals appearance.
A year after the Giants made a last-minute bid to trade for the Geelong star, they confirmed on Monday that Johnson will join them on a one-year deal.
The Giants finished 11th this season, only two games plus percentage outside the finals, and they hope Johnson’s competitive instinct will rub off on their young list.
“No doubt Stevie plays on the edge,” said GWS coach Leon Cameron.
“One thing we did love about deciding this is that he’s a really competitive animal and he wants to win.
“He wants to beat his opponent every week and that in itself is going to be a great fillip for our young lads.
“There’s no doubt we’re a young group that’s on the way up.”
The obvious flipside to Johnson’s fierce will to win is he also has a bad habit of attracting match review panel scrutiny.
“I’m really confident he can control that side of it,” Cameron said.
The three-time premiership player and 2007 Norm Smith Medallist became available when Geelong made it clear they would not offer him a new contract.
The 32-year-old played 253 games for the Cats and kicked 452 goals.
Cameron said Johnson’s decision to join the Giants was a great endorsement for the club, adding three or four other teams were also interested in the forward.
The GWS coach noted Johnson ended this season well and said the veteran would have a strong pre-season.
But Johnson will also have to prove himself at his new club.
“His No.1 role is to play footy for us,” Cameron said.
“He has to go out there and earn his stripes – train really well and play some good, hard, competitive footy.
“Second (is) adding some experience to our relatively-inexperienced forward line.
“It’s not just about kicks, marks and handballs, it’s leading patterns and understanding to stay in the game for longer, which we need to do to win games.”
Cameron said at the end of next season, GWS will sit down with Johnson and decide whether he keeps playing.
The coach said once Johnson’s playing career ends, he might continue at the club as an assistant coach, in list management or recruiting.
Also on Monday, Geelong continued their recruiting spree by signing up Gold Coast ruckman Zac Smith.
The Cats shipped off a pair of third-round draft picks in exchange for Smith, while the Suns then offloaded selection No.53 to acquire North Melbourne ruckman Daniel Currie.
Adelaide superstar Patrick Dangerfield, West Coast’s Scott Selwood and Carlton forward Lachie Henderson joined the Cats last week.
Brisbane were the other active club on Monday morning, picking up Carlton utility Tom Bell plus Geelong’s Josh Walker and Jarrad Jansen.
James Aish has also voiced his desire to leave and join Collingwood, but Lions list manager Peter Schwab suggested the Magpies were yet to talk turkey.
“They’re the club that he’s indicating he wants to go to, so Collingwood need to satisfy Brisbane before a deal can be done,” Schwab told AFL Trade Radio.