Western Bulldogs star Jason Johannisen says an early season stint in the VFL helped him regain confidence in his ability.
The 28-year-old has been a mainstay of the Bulldogs’ line-up for the past six years, but was left out of the team for this year’s season-opener against Collingwood.
He was the medical sub the following week and has returned to the starting 22 for the past fortnight, helping the Bulldogs continue their perfect start to 2021.
“It wasn’t really a surprise – obviously it was disappointing, but we’re at the stage at this footy club where you have to be playing good footy to be in the 23, as it is now,” Johannisen said of his early-season omission, on RSN.
“For me, I just lost belief in my game.
“I had a good chat with ‘Bevo’ and Rohan Smith, it was just about keeping my game simple. I went back to the VFL knowing what I needed to do as a teammate to impact the game and use my strengths.
“That’s going to be the way moving forward at this footy club because we’ve got such good depth – if you’re not performing at AFL level, there’s definitely guys in the VFL who will push you out.”
Johannisen has filled multiple roles over the past two weeks, spending time in his customary role across half-back, as well as pushing up to a wing and closer to goal.
He says the Bulldogs have made great improvements in their game since last year, but know they need to bring their best again to overcome the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday.
The Bulldogs have won four games in a row to start a season for the first time since 2008 – but haven’t won five games in a row to start a season since 1946.
“It’s been a great start from the boys and we’re looking to build momentum and keep it going,” Johannisen said.
“Definitely in pre-season, we thought this was possible.
“We knew there were a few key factors in our game that we wanted to work on, especially defensively…intercepting the ball, limiting opposition inside-50s and our tackling pressure has been unbelievable.
“That’s the stuff we really wanted to improve and we thought that would make us a great side and be hard to beat. So far, we’ve definitely lived up to the standards that we want and we’ll keep looking to improve.”