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Brad Johnson out of NAB Cup grand final

10/03/2010 04:51:37 PM Comments (0)

The Western Bulldogs believe captain Brad Johnson's absence from their opening round blockbuster against Collingwood will pay off later in the season.

The Dogs had hoped the 33-year-old, 349-gamer, who had been steadily recovering from a calf injury sustained five weeks ago, could play some part in Saturday night's NAB Cup grand final against St Kilda.

But, after a step up in training on Tuesday, Johnson felt calf tightness on Wednesday, prompting the club to rule him out both from that clash and almost certainly the Magpies encounter 15 days later.

Coach Rodney Eade said the club was taking a cautious approach with the "bigger picture" in mind.

"We're just going to give him a good program to get him right," coach Rodney Eade said.

"He's not playing this week, he's probably not going to play round one either, we would think, so it's a long year, we want to do the right thing by him.

"He understands that too, so we'll give him a lot of conditioning over the next few weeks and hope he's back round two, maybe round three."

Eade said the plan to hold Johnson back for up to another month was more about giving him a decent preparation than an expectation he would need that long to recover.

He said the skipper was likely to play with VFL side Williamstown before his return to the top level.

"He's got his head around the bigger picture that there's a long year and if you rush him early, like any player, there's a chance of doing some other injury as well and missing another four or five," Eade said.

"If you have a stop-start year, it really counts at the end of the season.

"I think he's got his head around that and he knows he's got to have a good preparation going in."

Daniel Giansiracusa will captain the side in Johnson's absence and will be the man hoisting the cup should the Bulldogs win on Saturday night.

But Giansiracusa said it was a desire to enter the season in the sort of good, winning form they intended to make a habit that motivated the Dogs more than a chance for a trophy.

He said the fact that they meet the Saints, who ousted them in a preliminary final last year and are again expected to be a major obstacle to this year's premiership tilt, was irrelevant.

"Whether it was against any other side other than St Kilda, we still want to win the game," Giansiracusa said.

"I think we're going to come up against them a couple of times during the year and hopefully later on in the year as well (in finals) but we just want to win every game that we play."

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