He (Johnson) will be really good for me up there.Dawson Simpson
DAWSON Simpson says he can’t wait to play alongside Steve Johnson at Greater Western Sydney next year.
Both AFL players from the North East have been handed lifelines by the Giants, after long careers at Geelong.
Barnawartha-raised Simpson, who played only 28 games at the Cats, said no one was happier Wangaratta legend Johnson was moving North than he was.
“That will make things a lot easier for me,” Simpson said.
“Stevie has been at the (Geelong) footy club the whole time I have been there.
“He pushes me and knows how to get the best out of me.
“He’s very good at getting the best out of players.
“He will be really good for me up there.”
Simpson struggled with injury and opportunity at the Cats since he was drafted from the Murray Bushrangers with pick No.34 in the 2007 national draft.
But he’s hoping a fresh start can revitalise his career.
Simpson is recovering from shoulder surgery but expects to be ready for the start of pre-season.
“The body’s feeling really good considering the amount of injuries I’ve had in the past,” the 26-year-old said.
“I just had shoulder surgery on my right shoulder.
“I dislocated my shoulder during the year but I’m feeling really good.
“I’ll be ready to attack the full pre-season.”
Simpson’s first chance to impress his new club will be against the Western Bulldogs in the NAB Challenge on February 25 in Canberra.
GWS will then play the Sydney Swans at Drummoyne Oval on March 4, and the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium on March 13.
Each club will play three practice games across four weeks in February and March with all 27 games shown live on Fox Footy ahead of the season proper, which stars on Thursday, March 24.
Simpson and Johnson won’t be the only former Geelong players at GWS, Simpson will be fighting Shane Mumford for a spot in Leon Cameron’s side.
While sad to leave Geelong, Simpson is grateful for a second chance.
“Leaving them after eight years you’ve got a lot of emotion tied into the place,” he said.
“I’ve made so many great mates and memories.
“On the other hand, I’m very grateful to get a second chance.
“A fresh start is exactly what I need.”
While excited by his Sydney move, Simpson and his partner Allira Matheson maintain strong links to the North East and haven’t ruled out returning in the future.
“I’d expect one day I’d move back to the North East,” the former Wodonga Senior Secondary College student said
“It’s a great area to bring up kids.”