Greater Western Sydney recruit Steve Johnson believes his new club can challenge for a AFL finals spot next year, as the Giants concluded a massive day of trading on Wednesday.
They concluded deals which sent midfielder Adam Treloar and Tomas Bugg to Collingwood and Melbourne respectively and traded defender Lachie Plowman, ruckman Andrew Phillips, and small forwards Jed Lamb and Liam Sumner to Carlton.
The Giants got the Pies first round picks this year and next year in exchange for Treloar, who earlier in the day had been shown in a video signing for Collingwood before the deal was finalised.
GWS gave Carlton a first round pick this year in exchange for one next year and swapped the first round pick this year they got from Collingwood (No.7) with Melbourne (No.10) as part of the deal for Bugg.
They received several lower rounds picks as a result of the various trades, in addition to three first round selections in 2016.
Released by Geelong after 13 seasons and 253 games, the 32-year-old triple premiership player Johnson said on Wednesday he was excited to continue his career at the up-and-coming expansion club, who should push for finals in 2016 after just missing out this year with an 11-11 record.
“At times I questioned whether I would or wouldn’t (continue) but after taking my time and letting the dust settle I felt like I still had the drive to play AFL footy,” Johnson said.
“I obviously chose this club because I thought it would be a great fit for me and a great fit for them.
“It’s an exciting group that’s shown that they are capable at AFL level now the players have got some experience under their belts and I think they are a group that can really challenge for the finals next season.”
The latter years of Johnson’s time at Geelong were marred by what he admitted were “silly little incidents” that got him suspended.
“I play on the edge, I probably make no excuses for doing that,” Johnson said.
“Sometimes you may cross the line, but I always have the team’s best interests at heart and hopefully I can be a big advantage to this team in the future.”
One of the most decorated players to join the Giants in their short existence, Johnson isn’t concerned about any expectations his stellar career may generate among his new teammates.
“I know that there’s probably going to be a lot of young sets of eyes on me and watching the way I go about it, but thats certainly something that I won’t mind,” Johnson said.
“I really enjoy a challenge and I’m motivated by trying to improve myself.
“A fresh start at a new club may just be the best thing for me.”
He expected to perform a similar role to what he did at Geelong last year, playing primarily in the forward line and said the Giants in that line were ready to blossom.
“There’s some very talented young players in the forward line and I’m really looking forward to working with them and hopefully playing a bit of a sideshow to those guys,” Johnson said.
He has a two-year agreement with GWS, but has not committed to playing in the second year and said moving to a coaching role after 2016 was a possibility.
“I still think I’m capable of producing some good footy,” Johnson said.