Johnson still earning back trust
Three months after being suspended by Fremantle and charged with possessing cocaine, Michael Johnson says he has worked hard to get his career back on track as he prepares to play his 100th AFL game.
Johnson, who has played seven consecutive games since returning from club exile, will reach the first major milestone of his career against Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium on Saturday.
The 25-year-old said he had learned plenty this season, the toughest of his AFL career, but he was yet to fully repay Fremantle for the support he had received through the year.
“I’ve done a lot around the club since the incident, (but) I’ve still got to earn my trust,” Johnson said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“That’ll come, but I’ve got to work hard at it over the next couple of seasons.
“I’m working hard with the club and off field with the family.
“It’s easily my toughest season I’ve had down at the club with the incident off field.”
Fremantle suspended Johnson for five matches in May and fined him a maximum $5000 after WA police charged him with possessing cocaine.
Johnson, who had played an important back-up ruck role in Fremantle’s early-season run, said it was tough to face his teammates again after letting them down.
“I was a senior player and I let the boys down,” Johnson said.
“Hopefully the players have seen a difference in me and hopefully I can improve on it. They’ve been great support to me and my family.
“It’s just awesome to come down to the club and feel wanted again (and) have that support around you.”
Johnson’s milestone game shapes as a season-defining one for Fremantle, which has lost three of its last four games and its last three clashes interstate.
Mark Harvey’s side has to win one of its last two games, including a Friday night showdown with Carlton in round 22, to guarantee a home final.
Johnson said the side was missing ruckman Aaron Sandilands, star defender Chris Tarrant and goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne, but the team was capable of toppling Hawthorn and defying its 1-5 record at Aurora Stadium.
“It is a long trip, but it’s part of football and we’ll go over there very confident,” he said. “We’ll have a game plan to suit that ground and Hawthorn’s style.
“We have missed Aaron, especially on the weekend where we got beaten in the clearances, but it’s up to the players that get the game on the weekend to step up.
“Whatever team we get on the park we’ll have a fair crack.”