GWS family will fire: Johnson

A close-knit team bond helped Brisbane Lions develop into an AFL powerhouse and Chris Johnson believes a similar culture is developing at Greater Western Sydney.

The Brisbane triple premiership player said a strong ''family'' unit will keep the Giants together during the heavy defeats they suffer in their first few AFL seasons.

And Johnson knows a lot about big losses.

Before he won three consecutive premierships with the Lions (2001-2003), he played for Fitzroy in 1996 - its final season before merging with the Brisbane Bears - and massive defeats were a regular occurrence for the now-defunct Melbourne club.

Fitzroy won just one game for the season and 14 of its 21 losses were by 10 goals or more.

The Giants face a similar few years in the AFL as it tries to blood its talented, but extremely young, list.


So far this season they've lost all three games by a combined total of 273 points, with an 81-point thrashing by West Coast last Sunday the latest.

And the immediate future doesn't look overly promising - travelling to NAB Cup winners Adelaide this Saturday - although they do have the Western Bulldogs, who are also winless, at Manuka Oval the following week.

Johnson knows exactly what GWS's young brigade will be going through.

There were also a few big defeats in Johnson's first season with the Brisbane Lions before he finally tasted premiership success - success many experts are predicting will be within the Giants' reach in a couple of years' time.

Johnson credited coach Leigh Matthews with turning things around by building a family-feel at the club that helped keep the team, many of which came from interstate, together in a non-Australian football part of the country.

''Within the Brisbane footy club we stuck together and the thing that Leigh was so good at was involving the partners that travelled up with those players from interstate and getting them amongst the football club and getting them to feel like they belonged as well,'' Johnson said.

Johnson felt Kevin Sheedy was developing a similar vibe at GWS, with most of the club living together at Breakfast Point in Sydney.

The Giants have also assembled an experienced coaching staff, with Mark Williams assisting Sheedy and Graeme Allan as football operations manager.

It's valuable experience that should help the Giants young players move on quickly from their defeats and prevent them from being scarred by the heavy losses.

Johnson said it was important to quickly move on from each defeat or risk getting bogged down in the past.

''As long as they're learning things each time they go out on the ground and they're walking away knowing more about the game, more about their position and more about their role that they have to play for the team - as long as they're doing that I think that's a great thing and a great positive to work on,'' he said.

''And I would assume that Sheeds and 'Chocko' [Williams] and the likes are really setting certain goals for these young boys to achieve … and making sure there are positives to take out of the game because if you get caught up in the negatives you can fall by the wayside.''