Lloyd Johansson in his blockbusting days with the Queensland Reds. PICTURE: Getty Images
Former backline wrecking ball Lloyd Johansson has been recommissioned for one more demolition derby.
The once Wallaby and Queensland Red has gone full-circle. He’s back in the Premier Gold Coast rugby union team – this time wearing Bond University colours and taking on Sunnybank in the Round 12 clash of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup at The Canal on Saturday.
In fact, according to Bond’s head coach Grant Anderson, Johansson, 36, will be the first Wallaby to wear Bond colours.
“It is great to be able to call on a player with the experience and ability that Lloyd has,” says Anderson.
“He will come in for Tautalatasi Tasi, who will be at a wedding this weekend. Tasi has been in outstanding form, but there were certainly no issues around him having this game off. Family always comes first at Bond.”
Ironically Tasi, 26, and Johansson are in many ways carbon copies … just a decade apart in age.
During a stellar representative career Johansson was a blockbusting centre, a powerhouse with the ball and devastating in defence.
Tasi has an identical style and is one of the most feared players in both attack and defence in the First Grade competition.
Born in Melbourne, Johansson started his rugby career in the AFL heartland before attending the Gold Coast’s The Southport School, where he forced his way into the rugby spotlight, winning the GPS title with the First XV in 2003.
He then joined the Gold Coast Breakers, the predecessors to the Bond Rugby Club, and won a Brisbane first grade title with them in his debut season in 2004.
(Coach Anderson was a Breakers teammate in 2004, but missed the grand final win to take up a playing contract in Scotland.)
Johansson went on to play for the Reds and the Wallabies before stints in Italy and Japan, and then returned to play in Melbourne in 2012.
“When I left the Gold Coast I knew I would come back,” he said.
“I love the lifestyle, the weather, it’s a great place.
“My wife and I had made the decision to come up here and I had been talking to Grant (Anderson) about joining Bond. During the pre-season I knew it was the right fit. I wanted to stay involved in rugby. I still enjoy playing and want to do my best whatever grade I am playing.
“Age is catching up and I was very happy playing alongside all the talented youngsters in second grade and if I can be a mentor for some of them, even better.
“I am excited to get the call up to first grade, but Tasi leaves very large shoes to fill, which I don’t think I will fill, but I’ll do my best.”
Anderson is targeting this game as a ‘must-win’ leading into a bye.
Third-placed Bond are coming off a 32-22 loss to Easts, while Sunnybank (8th) are fresh from a bye.
“This is a hugely important game this weekend,” said Anderson.
“A win will solidify our third spot regardless of other results over the bye weekend.
“We are really buoyed by the return of (prop forward) Zane Nonggorr from Reds commitments. He is great around the training paddock and is just very keen to play rugby and the get some more game time before heading into the Junior Wallaby camp next week. He certainly adds attacking power to our scrum.
“Also, Declan Dinnen (8) is back from shoulder and ankle injuries. He is a very experienced first grader, and we will need him because our Injury list continues to grow. Angus Blyth (5) and Dion Samuela (fullback) are both out injured, as are Tyler Campbell (15) and Max Dowd (11).
“Sunnybank are not to be under-estimated. They attack very well from unstructured play. We need to be very respectful of possession. If we aren’t, they will hurt us.
“The mood at training this week has been very good. We were sharp on both nights and had the added extra on Thursday night of a presentation on mental health to the whole playing group from one of our charity partners, Marcus Mission.
“Their aim to reduce the number of young men committing suicide certainly puts things into perspective.”
In other matches on Saturday:
Bond’s Premier Women’s side are in third place and take on fourth-placed Sunnybank.
Men’s second grade (3rd) will be hungry to get back on the right side of the ledger after being thumped 40-24 by Easts last weekend.
Third grade (6th) will also be seeking a win over the 8th-placed Sunnybank.
In Colts 1, Bond will also be confident of a home ‘W’ against their bottom-of-the-table opponents.
And Colts 2 (5th) will also be very keen to back up from last week’s win with another on Saturday against Sunnybank (9th).