NORM Smith medallist and three-time premiership star Steve Johnson has found new motivation in trying to help his young Greater Western Sydney teammates to their own finals success.
Johnson was recruited by the Giants at the end of last season to bring his experience and footy brain to the club, which had few veterans on its list, especially in the forward half of the ground.
The Giants will face the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium on Saturday week with just six players – Johnson (23 finals, three premierships), Heath Shaw (18, one premiership), Shane Mumford (10, one premiership), Ryan Griffen (11), Callan Ward (six), and Joel Patfull (two) – to have played a final.
However, Johnson said his teammates were more than capable of playing good footy at the most important time of the year.
The 33-year-old believes the club's tough early years will help them greatly throughout September.
"It's extremely exciting for these guys coming into their first final, and part of my motivation is to try and help them go as far as they possibly can," he said on Wednesday.
"I couldn't think of better side to do it with.
"They've obviously been through a lot of heartache throughout their first five or six years as a club, and if anyone deserves it, (it's) some of these guys that gone through some absolute beltings early in their careers.
"They haven't forgotten, they're really motivated by trying to get to the big stage."
Midfielder Stephen Coniglio is one of the club's core group of foundation players along with co-captain Phil Davis, Dylan Shiel, Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith and Tom Scully, and he said the group was well prepared for whatever the Swans might bring.
"We're definitely ready," he said.
"It wasn't too long ago that we were little kids dreaming about playing in these games, and watching guys like 'Stevie' (Johnson), Heath (Shaw), and 'Mummy' (Shane Mumford) running around in finals games.
"For us personally, it's been a long time coming and we're all very much excited.
"Time will tell as to how we'll go on the big stage, but one thing is for sure, our guys are ready, especially against the Swans, who we've played a number of times over the last few years.
"It's going to be a great night, not only for us and the Swans, but for the AFL in Sydney.
"As long as you have belief, that will hold you in good stead, and anything can happen on any given day, and these are the games that you want to be playing in."