Injury-hit Swans defender lifts teammates

Injury-plagued Swan Alex Johnson is providing some timely inspiration for his Sydney AFL teammates heading into the finals.

The classy defender hasn’t added to his tally of 45 senior games since the club’s 2012 grand final win over Hawthorn.

He played in every game that season, but has since undergone five knee reconstructions and several other operations.

In the past four years he’s made just one brief reserves appearance in a NEAFL game in which he re-injured his knee in round one of the 2014 season.

To the joy of his watching teammates, 24-year-old Johnson ran laps of the SCG on Wednesday, his first run outside on grass for 906 days.

They gave him a round of applause before he set out on his first lap of the iconic ground and at the end of each circuit.

“He’s been through an extraordinary journey and we’ve sort of witnessed a lot of the lows that he’s been through over the past few years,” midfielder Kieren Jack said.

“He didn’t know that we were all going to come out and watch him.

“He did a couple of five minute runs and it was just great to see him with a smile on his face out on the SCG running around again.

“It was great for him to do and it was great for us to see.”

Johnson has spent this year and part of last season working as a backline coach for the Swans reserves.

Jack said the Swans had drawn inspiration from Johnson’s efforts on Wednesday as they prepared to face GWS Giants in Saturday’s qualifying final.

“Alex has inspired us throughout this journey, his attitude, the way he comes in and presents himself,” Jack said.

“He gives energy all the time which is a really hard thing to do for someone that’s in his position.

“Whenever some of the players are feeling a bit down, you gain inspiration from what he does.”

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