Heap the pressure on Patrick Dangerfield and take it off Steve Johnson – that’s the message for Greater Western Sydney as they prepare to battle Geelong in Canberra on Sunday.
Dangerfield had a stunning first AFL outing for the Cats on Easter Monday with a career-best 44 possessions in the 30-point win over Hawthorn.
Johnson, on the other hand, copped criticism for his two-goal debut in the Giants’ two-point loss to Melbourne and will be looking to step it up against his former club at Manuka Oval.
GWS midfield coach Luke Power, who faced a similar situation in 2012 when he left Brisbane for the Giants after over 280 games with the Lions, admits it will be hard for Johnson but is confident he will do well.
“Geelong footy club, as Brisbane was for me, would be a massive part of not only his life but his identity,” Power said on Saturday.
“So it will be different, but he’s handled everything with aplomb so far in his 250-plus games and I’m sure he’ll handle this really well.
“He’s been great for our group with his on-field education and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that on Sunday. When you’re contributing like that, it can take the focus off worrying about yourself.”
The Giants are worried about the threat Dangerfield poses, with Power flagging a multi-pronged effort to contain him.
Midfielder Stephen Coniglio will spend time on the former Adelaide Crows champion, as will Ryan Griffen, Callan Ward and Dylan Shiel.
“It’s definitely a team effort to stop a player like that,” said Power.
“We’ll have a few players go through him and we’ll just have to put as much pressure on him as possible to make sure his possessions aren’t as damaging as they have been.”
The round-two clash will see the return of injury-prone No.1 draft pick Johnathon Patton, who played in a NEAFL trial match last weekend.
There’s been some doubt raised about Patton’s ability and sustainability in the AFL, but Power insists he’ll have no problems.
“He’s as fit as he’s ever been,” he said.
“If he kicks a couple of goals it’s a bonus, all we expect from any of our players is to go out there and attack every contest to their fullest.”
The Giants have lost all four previous matches against the Cats, their last a 27-point defeat in Canberra in round 17 last year.