Brad Johnson set for 342nd Bulldogs game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Brad Johnson set for 342nd Bulldogs game

29/07/2009 04:20:36 PM Comments (0)

Only two big targets remain for the AFL's "Smiling Assassin" as Brad Johnson tries to cap a universally-respected career.

Johnson thinks the Western Bulldogs can win an elusive premiership before he retires and coach Rodney Eade says the 33-year-old could become only the third player to reach 400 premiership games.

The Bulldogs captain will break the club games record on Saturday against Fremantle at Etihad Stadium, when he makes his 342nd AFL appearance.

He will take the honour from old friend Chris Grant, who will join the previous record holder Doug Hawkins in honouring Johnson with a simple pre-game ceremony.

Hawkins will handball to Grant, who will handball to Johnson, who joked on Wednesday that he hopes not to drop the ball.

Johnson's wide grin has become his trademark, along with his durability and skill.

But as president David Smorgon notes, Johnson's likeable nature belies a fierce determination.

The Bulldogs have only one premiership, in 1954, and after three losing preliminary finals in his career Johnson is focussing on winning a flag before retirement.

They finished third last year and, despite Saturday night's thrashing from St Kilda, Johnson oozes confidence about their immediate future.

Johnson revealed on Wednesday that some current players were about to meet with members of the `54 team as they build up to the finals.

"We're certainly really improving as a side and we're a side that has some fantastic talent, but on top of that some really good work ethic," he said.

"It just gives you an extra bit of motivation, sitting with those guys (the `54 players), and they're more than happy to pass that baton.

"If it comes this year, great, but we're certainly on the right track.

"The whole team has that belief that we can compete with the best and if we can bring it on the day, then we can certainly win."

Eade, who coached Sydney before taking over the Western Bulldogs, compares Johnson to Swans Brownlow Medallist Paul Kelly for the respect he has earnt throughout the AFL.

Johnson said he would sit down with Eade at the end of the season to discuss his future, but the coach clearly thinks he will keep playing.

In each of Johnson's completed seasons, he incredibly has played no less than 21 games.

Michael Tuck (426) and Kevin Bartlett (403) are the only AFL players so far to have reached the 400 mark.

"He's probably going to end up with 370-380, hopefully 400," Eade said.

"It's just an unbelievable achievement."

Johnson replied: "It's good to hear I might get to 400 - that means three or more years left in the game.

"I haven't put an end date on absolutely anything at this stage."

Smorgon now rates Johnson as the club's pre-eminent player, going ahead of legends such as "Mr Football" Ted Whitten and `54 captain Charlie Sutton.

The president said he based his opinion on Johnson's honours, which features six All-Australian selections, including captain of the 2006 team, and three club best and fairest awards.

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