Greater Western Sydney’s talent-laden forward line will have the added potency of veteran recruit Steve Johnson’s clever supply, Leon Cameron says.
The Giants coach got his first look at how the former Geelong star will combine with the likes of young guns Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron when he lined up for their only intra-club hit-out on Wednesday before their opening NAB Challenge game next week.
Johnson, who snapped a goal seconds before quarter time but had few clean possessions in the first half, increased his workload after the main break with some clever touches while playing at mostly at half forward and occasionally running through the midfield.
“He’s got the flexibility to play a number of roles,” coach Cameron told reporters post-game.
“He can hit some targets that probably not a lot of players can hit.
“Predominantly, he’s probably going to be up the ground a little bit more, but his front and square work and his ability to take one-on-one marks is going to be a potent weapon for us.”
Injury-plagued key forward Patton also praised Johnson’s contribution to his new side.
“He’s so smart. He’s always coming up to us guys and telling us what we’re doing good but also what we can do better.”
Patton, who was knocked unconscious during an off-season trip to Las Vegas in September, looked agile himself in kicking a goal and clunking a couple of solid marks.
The former No.1 draft pick said he was “easily” the fittest he’s ever been having had an uninterrupted pre-season following two knee reconstructions in previous years.
“Running around here compared to last year, I was just feeling a lot more free,” Patton said.
“I’m not cramping in games like I used to.
“Each game, I’m doing things I wasn’t doing the previous hit-outs. The more I can tick off as the games go past, my form will pick up.”
First choice ruckman Shane Mumford expectedly dominated his less experienced teammates in his return to competitive action from an ankle injury that sidelined him for more than half of the 2015 season.
The Giants have looked to sure up their ruck stocks after the loss of the former Sydney Swan decimated their finals chances last year, recruiting former Geelong big man Dawson Simpson, while youngster Rory Lobb impressed with three goals in the intra-club game.
Midfield workhorses Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith were dominant in the midfield while Ryan Griffin, who starred with three early goals, earned the praise of coach Cameron having dropped around four kilos in the pre-season.
“He’s in a pretty good space,” Cameron said.
“He’s keen to really stamp his authority going forward this year.”