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Versatility the key, says JJ

March 27, 2017 4:15 PM

AFL 2017 Round 01 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Jason Johannisen of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal during the 2017 AFL round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Western Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen says that versatility will be a key component as he and his teammates strive to turn themselves into better players.

Along with returning skipper Bob Murphy, Johannisen spent stages of last Friday's match against Collingwood on the wing and in the forward line. He kicked two goals in the win over the Magpies, while Murphy also had a chance to kick one, opting instead to handball to Stewart Crameri in the goal-square.

Speaking with SEN on Saturday morning, Johannisen said the move up the ground was part of an evolutionary process promoted in the off-season that would see players capable of slotting into a number of different roles.

"It's a lot of education during the pre-season, he said.

‘You don't just want to be a one-line player. You want to be able to play different roles for the team at different stages.

"With Bob [Murphy] and [Matt] Suckling coming back into the team, we've got a lot of players who can give us drive off half back so we can spend a bit of time forward and hopefully get on the scoreboard and do some damage."

While both he and Murphy made positive contributions up forward in the win against Collingwood, Johannisen said the Bulldogs had identified several areas from the match that will need improvement.

"I think Collingwood beat us in clearances and contested ball and we just put our defenders under a heap of pressure. They were able to stand up but that's not the way we like to play. We just have to learn from it and try and get better."

The Magpies threatened to take control of the match at times, but Johannisen said the Bulldogs had learnt how to adjust the tempo of the game under coach Luke Beveridge.

"Over the last two years we've learnt how to stem the flow a bit when teams get momentum on us. We just go back to the basics and try and resurrect the game on our terms. I think when our mids got challenged at times they stepped up and got the job done."

Johannisen said he and his teammates would not be resting on their laurels after Friday's win, and the injection of new faces into the side would help keep it fresh.

"We know it's a new season; we have a new team, a couple of fresh faces. I think it's that understanding that we don't know how good we can be, and we just have to look for improvement each week.”

The Bulldogs will play their first home game of the 2017 season at Etihad Stadium against Sydney on Friday night.