AFL: veteran Fremantle defender Johnson eyes contract extension

Michael Johnson of the Dockers looks on during the round 12 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and Fremantle. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Michael Johnson of the Dockers looks on during the round 12 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and Fremantle. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

FREMANTLE defender Michael Johnson has not ruled out playing on next year.

The 221-game veteran has played all 12 games this year after running out just four times in 2016 due to knee and hamstring issues.

Despite his contract expiring at season’s end, Johnson said his aim was to play well.

“I’m a player that’s never sort of had the contract talks interrupt my career at all and I’m always keen to push that aside and play consistent footy for Fremantle,” he said.

“Whatever happens at the end of the year happens.

“I’m 33 at the end of the year so there’s some really good quality young defenders coming through the ranks at Fremantle so if it is my time I’m happy to move on.

“But all I’m worried about is coming and playing consistent footy for Fremantle and helping all the young guys and representing the club.”

He said his run with injuries had kept his focus on the short-term.

“I’m never focused on the future. It’s always, especially after missing last year and not playing a lot of footy, just about playing some football for Fremantle,” he said.

“If it happens it happens next year… it would be great to stick around but I’ll leave all that sort of talk to my manager.”

Johnson said he was confident he could make a return to the AFL level after a long absence, but admitted he was caught out by the pace of the game early on in the season.

He said he had not used assault allegations last year as an excuse for his effort to drop away.

“It’s always hard to get back into the rhythm, especially the pace of the game,” he said.

“I’m not getting any younger but I thought I trained well over pre-season.

“I thought I’d done the work when it came to kilometres and the amount of sessions we did so I sought of backed myself in and backed the strength and conditioning coaches.

“I’m lucky enough to (have played) a lot of games so far so (I) use my experience, especially when I’m out on the field, to get myself up and going.”

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