Western Bulldogs draftee Ryley Sanders has drawn high praise from veteran defender Jason Johannisen in his first AFL preseason.

Speaking on RSN Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Johannisen said Sanders has been impressive on the track since arriving with pick six in last November’s draft.

“I think there’s been a lot of hype around Ryley, but it’s very merited because the way he’s been training – he’s been unbelievable,” the 2016 Norm Smith Medallist said.

“Personally he reminds me of a young Libba – he’s clean at the stoppages, but then also has the time and poise of Scott Pendlebury.

“He’s been extremely exciting to watch, so Dogs fans will be really keen to watch him this season. If his body holds up and he stays healthy, I assume he’ll play a lot of games this year.”


Johannisen also commended Bailey Smith for his involvement around the Club, despite suffering an ACL injury before the Christmas break.

“He’s also been unbelievable – he’s probably entitled to have some time off, but he’s been in the Club pretty much every time we are, just doing as much as he can,” Johannisen said of Smith.

“He’s been doing a lot of upper body circuits, and I think he’s starting to do some bike riding as well.

“To have him around just shows how much he cares about the playing group, and just wants to be part of it all.”

Johannisen will be within reach of the double-century this season – which could come as early as round 13 if he plays every game to start the year.

He said it would be a significant moment in his career.

“I think it will be an extremely proud moment for myself because you know, it's exciting just to play one game, but to hopefully play 200 will mean so much to me,” Johannisen said.

“Especially from the Club that took a gamble on me as a young kid and, you know, showed me the way. So hopefully the body holds up and I can play some good footy.

“I’ve been training across half-back all pre-season, so that looks like it will be the position for me this year but like the past, wherever the team needs me I’m happy to go and play any role. We’ll just go week-by-week.”

The Bulldogs will ramp up their pre-season preparations with a seven-day camp in Mooloolaba next week, before hosting Hawthorn in an AFL match simulation training session in late February.