Bulldogs star Johannisen eyes new AFL deal

Western Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen has renewed contract talks with the reigning premiers after a scintillating start to the AFL season.

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The Norm Smith medallist opted to put negotiations on hold earlier in the year as the AFL and the players’ union continue to thrash out a new agreement which could substantially increase player salaries.

But Johannisen has confirmed his management is back in discussions with the Bulldogs in the hope a new deal can be sealed soon.

A product of East Fremantle, Johannisen had been expected to draw plenty of interest from across the competition – especially the West Australian clubs – but the 24-year-old says he’s relishing the opportunity to be part of the Bulldogs’ premiership defence.

“I’ve never been a part of a football team that’s so close – it’s pretty special,” he told AAP.

“What we achieved last year has sort of gone behind us. The new challenges that have brought us here today and the new journey that we’re going to go across this year has kept the group pretty excited, and we just can’t wait.”

After an exemplary finals campaign, Johannisen has continued to deliver for the Bulldogs, averaging 26 disposals per game and providing important run-and carry off half-back.

With coach Luke Beveridge preaching the need for versatility, Johannisen has looked to spend more time on the wing and up forward after spending most of last year in the back line.

“You’re always looking at ways to improve, so you can’t be too happy with yourself, but I’m in a great place at the minute,” Johannisen said.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in my ability and I’m just looking to use my strengths.”

The Bulldogs have shown glimpses of brilliance and an unrivalled ability to close out games on their way to a 4-1 record but are yet to replicate the ferocity of last year’s inspired finals campaign.

They will face a major test on Friday night when they travel to Canberra to face Greater Western Sydney – a side they narrowly edged in a fierce and gripping preliminary final last year.

“All the hype of a prelim – obviously it’s going to be extra pressure because you know what’s going to be at stake,” Johannisen said.

“It was a very high-pressure game and it was probably exciting to watch. They’ve got great talent and it’s going to take our best to win.”