Giants' Stevie J not fazed by AFL critics

Steve Johnson has found his vintage best at the right time of the year for a GWS title tilt.

Steve Johnson has found his vintage best at the right time of the year for a GWS title tilt.

Steve Johnson says Greater Western Sydney need to believe they are favourites against Richmond, as he seeks to keep alive the prospect of a fairytale finish to his AFL career.

A six-goal second half blitz by the veteran forward in Saturday's 67-point semi-final win over West Coast, set up a preliminary final clash against the Tigers at the MCG on Saturday.

Johnson said his troublesome knee felt better than it had for about 20 weeks, with injections helping the situation.

He had no qualms about being dropped for last week's qualifying final against Adelaide and volunteered to play in the scratch match against the Crows.

Reaping the benefits from the game time, Johnson backed up on Saturday and produced his biggest goal haul for six years.

The 34-year-old admitted he had looked at some of the criticism he had received in recent times.

"It's an opportunity to look at yourself and see if there's any truth to it," he said.

"But I've been around long enough that it doesn't worry me, it doesn't affect me.

"I know what the coach wants, I know what I'm capable of.

"It's not what I was once capable of but there's still a role for me to play and I'm really looking forward to next week.

"I know what my role has got to be, to try and be as physical as possible but help set up our forward line and try and influence the game when I get my opportunity as well."

Johnson felt the Giants would benefit from the experience gained in last year's heartbreaking six-point home loss in the club's maiden preliminary final appearance against Western Bulldogs, which he missed through suspension.

"We need to go in believing that we are the favourite," Johnson said.

"We're desperate after last year's prelim final loss.

"We know how much that hurt, we know the pressure that was on us going into that game and we didn't live up to it.

"Thats the bottom line and we hope that holds us in good stead."

In their most recent clash against Richmond, GWS were outmuscled at a wet MCG and were held to 45 points, their lowest score of the season.

"I feel like we're a different team right now than what we were back then, so a lot has changed and I think we can look at next week with a bit of optimism," Johnson said.

However, he isn't yet talking about the possibility of a grand final swansong against former club Geelong, who play Adelaide in the other preliminary final.

"I can't wait to watch the Adelaide-Geelong game next Friday night, the perfect prep to go into a prelim final for ourselves," Johnson said.

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