Swans recruit Johnston eyes forward spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Swans recruit Johnston eyes forward spot

By Adrian Warren 01/12/2008 05:08:58 PM Comments (0)

Sydney's top AFL draft pick Lewis Johnston dreams of filling a key forward position but he quickly discovered Barry Hall isn't a bloke who gives up anything lightly.

Fearsome forward Hall made an instant impression on 17-year-old Johnston when the youngster attended his first Swans team meeting on Monday.

"I sat in Barry Hall's seat at the meeting and got a bit of a yell, it woke me up straight away," Johnston said.

Asked what Hall had said to him, a sheepish Johnston said: "He sat on me".

"I was a bit nervous, I didn't know what to say, I just moved away and didn't say anything."

An All-Australian under-18 selection, South Australian Johnston was snapped up with the 12th selection in Saturday's draft.

With good hands, a strong kick and good marking skills, Johnston can play at centre half-forward and full forward and has also spent time at centre-half back and the half-forward flank.

Johnston said being a key position forward for the Swans was his goal and he looked forward to learning from Sydney's veteran key forwards, Hall and Michael O'Loughlin.

With centre half-forward Hall and full-forward Michael O'Loughlin both 31, approaching the end of their illustrious careers, he could well get his wish in the not-too-distant future.

While reluctant to compare Johnston to any of his veteran forwards, Sydney coach Paul Roos believed the teenager from Port Pirie could potentially replace one of them or even play elsewhere on the ground.

"Potentially he could play full forward, centre half-forward, centre half-back wing, he's quite an athletic guy," Roos said of Johnston.

"But obviously we know we need to replace Hally and Mick at some point over the next 12 months to two years, so it's clearly with the view of taking the positions that those guys play rather than the way they play."

While Johnston is moving to Sydney fulltime, the Swans' second pick, Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Dan Hannebery, who was taken 30th in the draft, will finish his schooling at Xavier College next year.

Roos described 17-year-old Hannebery as an elite runner.

"I think he ran 10m30s at the draft camp for three kilometres, if you could recover ground like that, you know you've got a real chance to be an AFL midfielder, he's got really good skills," Roos said of Hannebery.

Roos has kept tabs on Hannebery since watching him play against his nephew Joel in a schoolboy grand-final four years ago.

"He was the star player and I remember watching him play," Roos said.

Hannebery said Roos appearance at that game had been "talk of that day".

"But I'd never really spoken to him till Saturday when he gave me a call up," Hannebery said.

He said there was no pressure on Johnston, Hannebery or Sydney's third draft pick, defender Campbell Heath, who was taken 61st on Saturday, to play senior football next year.

Roos said it was much more difficult to get into an AFL club than when he was a youngster, but conversely players had a better chance to play senior football early once drafted as clubs now had smaller lists.

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