Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin



WHEN Mitch Johnson arrived at the Southport Sharks in 2017 he planned to just spend a year in Queensland playing before returning to Melbourne.

Five seasons on and Johnson is set to play his 50th senior game for the club when the Sharks play Essendon on Sunday at Fankhauser Reserve.

Johnson, 27, is only one of four players remaining on the list from the 2017 NEAFL premiershi­p team and the small forward is now one of the most experience­d on the list.

“I got an opportunit­y to move up to Queensland when Southport called me in 2017 and I wasn’t thinking it would be a long-term thing,” Johnson said.

“I was just going to spend a year here and see how it went but five years down the track and I’m still here. I have really enjoyed my time at the club.”

The hulking forward, who works in protective services at the Gold Coast University Hospital, may get a dream match-up should former Richmond premiershi­p player Alex Rance come his way on Sunday.

Rance, rated the AFL’s best defender before his shock retirement in 2019, is set to make his comeback via Essendon’s VFL team on Sunday.

Johnson, who stands at 180cm, is a Richmond supporter and hopes Rance, 194cm, comes his way at some stage throughout the game. The more likely match-up is between Rance and Sharks forwards Tom Fields and Connor Nutting.

“He was obviously a highly rated defender in his time at Richmond and I’m a Tigers supporter so it would be quite awesome to see if he lined up on me at some point,” Johnson said.

“I’d treat him like any other defender.”

Southport has only played three times in the last seven weeks due to

Covid restrictio­ns but Johnson said the side, that sits second on the VFL ladder, had found a way to stay sharp.

“We have made sure that we don’t get ahead of ourselves,” Johnson said.

“We stick to the basics and when we have an opportunit­y to train we make the most of our sessions because you never know what can happen.

“We are switched on and ready to go.”

First bounce is at 12.05pm.

 ??  ?? Mitch Johnson
Mitch Johnson

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