Western Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen admits signing a new deal has taken a weight off his shoulders.
The 24-year-old’s decision to sign a five-year contract extension came amid a turbulent season in which he has faced scrutiny on and off the field. After winning the Norm Smith Medal last year, Johannisen’s patchy form has mirrored that of the premiers. Johannisen was also caught up in rumours of internal conflict at Whitten Oval.
The West Australian’s decision to put contract talks on hold earlier in the year led many to believe he would seek a lucrative deal in his home state.
Johannisen yesterday said he had never intended to leave, adding that the length of his contract and his desire to wait for a new collective bargaining agreement had been sticking points.
“I’ve lived in Melbourne for the last seven years now. I love Melbourne, I love the football club and even my parents don’t want me back in Perth,” he said. “A lot of people were talking about it. Personally, I always knew that it was going to happen but signing on the dotted line definitely takes a little bit of weight off the shoulders.”
A key issue for Johannisen this season has been learning to deal with the physical pressure from opposition taggers.
The lightly built running machine was held to just nine disposals by Sydney’s George Hewett in round 12, with the Swans midfielder’s niggling shutdown role inspiring other clubs to follow suit.
Johannisen has shown signs he’s beginning to handle the attention, starring in the Bulldogs’ wins over Carlton and Gold Coast.
“It’s been a bit different and it’s been a bumpy ride but I think with support from my coaches and (teammates), we’re starting to overcome it,” he said. “We play a physical sport so it’s nothing that we haven’t seen or done before.
“That’s sort of not how I play my game but the physical stuff that I receive doesn’t really faze me. I know it’s coming but I just try and focus on my job at hand.”
Johannisen was speaking at the launch of an exhibition at Melbourne’s Immigration Museum celebrating diversity in football.
Meanwhile, Kangaroos ruckman Majak Daw wasn’t hearing the Sound of Silence, but he referred to the Simon and Garfunkel classic as he laughed off the spray coach Brad Scott gave him during Saturday’s loss to Essendon.
The incident was shown on the TV coverage, with the Daw summoned to the interchange bench and putting on the headphones.
The split-screen footage showed Daw sheepishly listening at one end of the line and his furious coach, sitting in his box, yelling down the handset.
“I just looked out on the ground and you know that song?: ‘Hello darkness, my old friend’,” Daw said in a video posted on the club website.
Teammate Jarrad Waite said it was clearly an all-time great bake. “I’ve had a couple in my time, but yours was worse,” Waite said.
Daw said he and Scott had laughed about the incident. “It was a fair spray but I can understand where Brad’s coming from,” Daw said. “He wants the best out of me and I think someone like me, I’ve got a pretty thick skin.
“For me, it was turning that spray into what I can work on during the week, what can I do with the ruck coach and the midfield coach, so I guess it’s about learning really from it. “