Stevie J Addresses The Retirement Talk

"I guess at some stage..."

Stevie J Addresses The Retirement Talk

(Image: Getty)

Greater Western Sydney veteran Steve Johnson insists he still has more to give after a difficult start to the AFL season.

A triple-premiership player, three-time All-Australian and Norm Smith medallist with Geelong, Johnson's record is undeniable, and his 43 goals last season helped the Giants reach the finals for the first time.

But the 33-year-old has struggled in the early stages of his 16th season and was again quiet during the Giants' 23-point loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

Playing up forward, Johnson had 20 touches and five marks but only laid one tackle and failed to hit the scoreboard.

With six goals from six games, Johnson has been largely unable to add to his extraordinary highlight reel this season.

Speaking before Friday night's game, Johnson acknowledged the pressure he was under but declared he could handle it.

"It's funny living up in Sydney, even though I'm a footy head, I hadn't realised that the spotlight's on me as much as you alluded to," Johnson said in a Seven Network interview.

"In the last 24 hours, I've had people telling me that the drums are beating, and that's fine.

"I guess at some stage, one of these experts or one of these people that's yelling out over the fence is going to be right - it's going to be the end for me, because I'm not getting any younger.

"But I'm just not willing to accept that it's just yet."

Johnson toyed with retiring last year but eventually signed a one-year contract extension, having missed the Giants' nailbiting preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs through suspension.

Coach Leon Cameron praised Johnson's first-half performance against the Saints, saying he hoped it was a sign of things to come after an interrupted pre-season.

"We understand there's a bit of speculation on Steve and he knows that as well," he said.

"He's got a bad knee, and he's had a thumb operation and couldn't touch a ball for three months. These guys at the back-end of their career ... absolutely you've got to look after them at times.

"But he's building. I thought particularly when the game was absolutely at its hottest ... I thought it was probably his best half for the seven weeks that we've played."

Johnson's spot could come under pressure from Lachie Whitfield, who will be free to play next week after serving a six-month suspension.

Whitfield was sanctioned in November for breaching AFL rules over an alleged bid to avoid a possible drug test.

The 22-year-old has been in full training since mid-March but Cameron said he might need a run in the seconds before a senior recall.

"He's done an enormous amount of running," Cameron said.

"Is he fit enough? Absolutely. He's hungry. The attitude's been outstanding. So we'll probably get to Tuesday or Wednesday and decide on that."

- AAP​

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