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IN: Jason Bertacco (Hanwood Soccer Club), Brett Davis (Hay Lions), Michael Johns, Brett Owen (Avonvale Heights), Jeremy Way (Barellan).

OUT: Joel Brown (Mt Lofty, SA), Dean Crack, Matthew Crack, James Fallon, Chris Forwood, Jason Hampel, Roger Heenan (Portland), Dean Jamieson (Barellan), Jason Malone (Barellan), Matthew McDonald (North Albury), Luke McLean (South Launceston).

 BACK TO BASCICS FOR SWANS - By Scott Hazelwood 

NEW Griffith Swans coach for 2008 Gerard Toscan said he will be implementing a back-to-basics game plan in the upcoming year, with the aim of matching up playing talent with their ladder position. Toscan said he at times frustrated with the club's performance last season and wants to take the club back to the top of the Riverina Football League. "We have plenty of work to do from last year, I think we were underachievers (this year) and we should have finished higher up in the competition," Toscan said.

"There will need to be some hard work done by individuals on certain things, and things we will need to work on as a team. "At times (last season) we played really good footy, and other times, I was personally a bit frustrated." Toscan said he did not want to dwell on the past and aims to get the Swans' title chances back on track by playing a more direct attacking style of football. "We are going harder at the ball.

"There are a couple of hard ball players we have in the club, probably best in the competition, but the 21 who we pick on the day need to share the workload - everyone has to do their bit," he said. "Some of the forwards will be holding the ball in more and there are going to be a few new drills and we are going to be doing a lot of game situations training.

"And we aren't going to tell them what we want them to do, we are going to show them, and I can guarantee there will be some bruises at training. "I'm not really scientific when it comes to coaching footy. I know what I can and can't do, and as long as we can do the basics well (during the game) then I reckon we will go all right."

Toscan said he was confident of keeping most of the playing roster from the 2007 season but said former captain-coach Luke McLean and back pocket Roger Heenan's absence will leave a large hole to fill. Helping fill that gap in the roster are potentially three new recruits, with talks to be concluded in the next fortnight. The rest of the Swans coaching staff for the 2008 season has been confirmed with Toscan having the services of Phil Rowston and Greg Dreyer as his assistants. Official Swans pre-season training will begin on January 14.

(The Area News - Friday December 7, 2007).


MICK Duncan has revealed he is seriously considering a sensational swap from the Griffith Swans to the Yenda Blueheelers to try his hand at a different code of football. Duncan has already attended a Blueheelers training session and said he wanted to test himself, having claimed three best and fairest honours at the Swans.

"I still haven't made up my mind, but I reckon it would be a really good challenge," Duncan said. "I reckon I would be cheating myself if I didn't have a go (at rugby league), I don't want to look back in five or six years and wonder why I didn't have a go." Duncan said playing touch football will help him grasp on the basic ball skills in league, but admitted he had a steep learning curve ahead of him regarding how to read the play. "That will probably the biggest thing I have to learn.

In Aussie Rules I know the game plans that they used, but for league I don't have much of an idea," he said. "I know a few of the guys out there and I was talking to them about it, so I have started to learn a fair bit." Yenda president Adam Goldman said the club would use Duncan in the West Wyalong knockout and the Griffith Black and Whites Sevens tournament, to see what he may be able to bring to the club.

"We'll give him a run and see what he thinks (of league), but at the end of the day he has to like it," Goldman said. Duncan said he hoped to continue to try and play AFL in some form this winter, but when asked if it would be for the Swans.

 Duncan admitted that a move away from the club would be "more than likely." "I have played with the Swans for most of my life.

I've won three best and fairest medals, and I played for NSW in Aussie Rules, so I have done about as much as I can do in the sport from here.  "I didn't really enjoy Aussie Rules last year, and if that was to happen again this year, I might walk away from the game forever."

Duncan confirmed that he has offered his support to the Yenda Oztag side, which would be a considerable boost to the team that finished third last year. (The Area News - Friday January 18, 2008).


 SWANS FLY THE NEST - By Scott Hazlewood 

GRIFFITH Swans president George Duncan admitted the club will struggle to fill the void left by up to four stars that left in the off season. Former captain-coach Luke McLean, Matt McDonald and Joel Brown have all left the club for varying reasons, while star onballer Mick Duncan is seriously considering a change to rugby league. First grade coach Gerard Toscan said if Duncan was considering going to league, he would be a loss to the code. "He (Mick) is an Aussie Rules footballer and I think he would have more regrets by say, not going down and playing in the Ovens and Murray League than playing rugby league." When combined, the players loss will put back the team's planned progression in pre-season training, with time needed to be allocated to identify suitable replacements for the missing stars.

The Swans president said the club knew of some players were looking to move away for reasons other than football. "Well Luke, his situation was out of our hands, and we knew Matt McDonald was looking for a game in the Albury league and if Michael does leave as well, that will leave a big hole in our side,' Duncan said. "The Swans have also lost the services of Joel Brown for the 2008 season, with the tall half forward moving to Adelaide for work-related reasons.

The Swans depth in the on-baller position will be tested by the men's departures, with all playing a vital role, which Duncan described as the "engine room" of the local side. Compounding the problems posed by an exodus of players, is the fact the Swans have not been able to attract any new blood to the club, a fact that has frustrated Duncan over the past few months.

"We haven't been able to recruit anyone. Our recruitment officers have been out there talking to people, but I think they (possible recruits) are playing one club against another," Duncan said. Duncan also believes richer clubs held too much sway when it came to luring top talent to country areas. "We've just got to concentrate on the local guys that are part of the team," Duncan said.

"If there are some younger guys that want to step up then they can, but our main concern is getting a side on the paddock and worrying how competitive they will be, when the first grade comes around." Toscan urged these younger players to come to training, saying much of the training sessions so far focuses on development of skills.

"I can't have my chained yanked, some of these guys just have to get there (training)," he said. "There are some guys that play 18's last year that are prepared to chew glass and eat bricks to make first grade ad they will be given the opportunities in the one's." Swans pre-season training is on at Collina on Monday and Friday and Jubilee Oval on Wednesday starting at 6pm.

(The Area News - Wednesday January 23, 2008). 


WHEN you think footballers changing codes in recent years the assumption has been between rugby league and rugby union, however talented speedster Brett Davis is trading in his Waratah stripes for the feathers of the Griffith Swans for season 2008.

Davis, who played a handful of AFL games for Hay last year, said he wanted to have a full-time crack at the code after receiving positive feedback on his performances for the Lions. "I've only played a couple of junior games for Kempsey and when I started playing for Hay, I started to like the game," Davis said. "After a few people came up to me and said I should have been playing AFL before and I figured they wouldn't say it for no reason." Davis, a Tiger for the past two years, admits he has much to learn in AFL, but Swans coach Gerard Toscan has given the explosive Davis free reign to use his natural ability as he sees fit, within the play structure designed for the club this year.

"It's been good so far (training), and it's been really hands on at the moment learning the little things like positioning my body to be tackled, tackling other players, hand balling, kicking," Davis said. "I'll be looking forward to playing the better sides, I don't know any of the other players and who they are, so I will be just trying to learn what I can as I am playing, but mainly worrying about my own game."

The 22-year-old will get his wish in the first round with the Swans drawn to play last year's grand finalist Narrandera, who will have a point to prove after failing at the last hurdle. Toscan has high hopes for Davis, but said he is willing to nurture his obvious talent in order to get the best out of his new recruit. "If he can stick at it, he will be something special" Toscan said.

"He will be the most exciting player since Joey Daby, he may not be quite as good as him, but he will be as exciting. "It's his vision, his speed and quickness and his step and he isn't afraid to shirk the tough stuff with his league background - but we have to look after him.

A fullback in rugby league, Toscan said he hasn't decided on where Davis will be best suited, but with his acceleration, a place on the wing would be the most likely place to tap into his need for speed.

Along with Davis, the Swans have lured several former players back to the club, with 2004 grand finalist Brett Owen set to resume his role in midfield. Griffith have snagged former Barellan player Jeremy Way and forward Shaun Curran who has been "training the house down," according to Toscan. Toscan also has high hopes for James Fallon, however he will be without his services until at least week two of the competition, with Fallon laid low with a groin strain.

The Swans younger players were given the chance to stretch their wing last weekend and prove to the selectors why they deserve a full time first grade spot this season with three trial games in Temora. "Despite losing two of their games, Toscan said, as with many preseason games the way in which the side played is almost as important as the result. "It was a pretty good hit out, we had a pretty young side only being about 19, because we had a few senior guys unavailable," he said. (The Area News - April 2, 2008).



YOU could forgive Jason Bertacco for wanting to "soccer" every goal along the ground when the Riverina Football League starts this weekend, with the former Hanwood football player trying his hand at Australian Rules for season 2008.

Bertacco is the latest in a number of football players switching codes to pull on the red and white for the Griffith Swans this year, with Bertacco saying he has enjoyed the steep learning curve so far. Bertacco has played soccer since he was six years old with the Hanwood club in both the North Eastern Soccer League and he was 14.

Having confessed to playing one game of AFL six years ago, Bertacco said a couple of close friends convinced him to try his hand at the other game. "I played cricket with the Catanzariti boys and James Fallon, and they said I should come down and have a run," Bertacco said.

"It's my first year and I am still learning, but all of the guys have been really good at training, stopping and giving me pointers when I need them." From the outside, Bertacco's other loves of cricket and soccer appear to not have anything in common with his new winter pursuit, but the new Swan said he has been able to apply some of the skills to AFL.

"It's a lot of moving into space and trying to put a teammate into the right area so it's similar to soccer, but it's different because you move differently and you can block people," he said. "Catching overhead probably comes from being used to catching the ball in cricket in the same way, but I am just trying to get my hands up there and hope for the best."

As for his side's chances this weekend against last year's finalists, Bertacco said the club had been putting in the hard yards at training but did not know what to expect from his first foray in the RFL. "I have been really working hard over the past five or six weeks to learn what I can, and so has the rest of the club," he said. "Everyone has said that Narrandera is one of the strong teams in the competition and it should be a good test for the club to see where we are, and what I have to learn and improve on." (The Area News - Friday April 11, 2008).



THE Griffith Swans will be looking to prove that last week's 98-point rout of Eastern Hawks was more than just a fluke when they play North Wagga on Sunday. But with North Wagga eager to prove themselves, and bearing the home-town advantage, the task for the Swans will be tougher that it seems. Despite last Saturday's annihilation of the Eastern Hawks, Swans coach Gerard Toscan is taking nothing for granted as they fight for a stronger position in the RFL. "Traditionally we don't play well in Wagga, which is a problem," he said. "It's always been tough for a Griffith side to win over there." With the North Wagga side under consistent pressure to perform after a six game losing streak, the home team will be desperate for a win. "They're going to fancy their chances, so they'll be having a real crack at us," Toscan said."We just have to treat them like any other side." The Swans will welcoming Brett Davis and Dean Catanzariti back into the fold for the game, who missed the victory against the Hawks. Toscan said the team faces the difficult situation of not knowing any of North Wagga's tactics. "We don't know what their strengths are at all," he said. "We're going to be learning from the first bounce." (The Area News - Friday May 23, 2008).



THIS was the year Michael Duncan wasn't going to play Australian football. It was the year in which he was going to give it away for a chance at a new code at the Yenda Blueheelers, but ironically it was an injury in a basketball game that helped change his mind and set the gears in motion for a stellar year for the on-baller.

Duncan has been awarded for his outstanding form by being named as one of only two representatives from the Riverina Football League in the NSW Country side ahead of the Australian Country Championship in Shepparton next month. However, it was nearly not to be as the all-round sportsman sought new challenges after growing tired of AFL, by playing for Griffith Demons basketball side and Yenda.

But a rib injury for the Demons forced his hand not to venture into fully contact world of rugby league, with his focus then turning to help the Swans get back to the top of the RFL. It is the second time Duncan has worn the sky blue of his state, however, by his own admission the call up was totally out of the blue. "I sort of didn't expect it at all really." Duncan said.  "I hurt my ribs in the first game for the Demons on the Saturday just before the Group 20 knockout and played on the Sunday.

"You can't get away with being hit in league while you can get away with being hit most of the time in AFL."

After last season the multiple clubs best and fairest winner said he had lost the spark to play the game that he loved but said the arrival of a few old mates to the Swans and developing a more relaxed attitude to his game, has enabled him to reinvent himself.

"I just wanted to have some fun this year, I wasn't even going to play for the RFL, but we trained at Narrandera three times and there was a good bunch of blokes, so I said why not," he said. Another reason for falling in love with the game all over again has been the appointment of Gerard Toscan as Griffith's head coach this year, with Duncan enjoying the opportunity to take an on-field leadership role.

(The Area News - Wednesday, June 25, 2008).



WHILE the Griffith Swans on-field prospects looking up, the club has been able to secure its financial future with the signing of Owen Toyota as a new co-major sponsor. The three-and-a-half deal officially began last round against Narrandera, with the Swans jerseys sporting the sponsor. Swans president George Duncan said the club is excited about the future relationship between the club and Owen Toyota, saying the deal should be of mutual benefit to both parties.  "It's great to bring on board a locally owned and managed company like Owen Toyota," Duncan said.  As part of the deal a large Toyota logo will be painted on the Exies Oval for Swans home games.

"The logo painted on the oval is something new to our club, we had many positive comments from spectators and visitors at last year's Pink Day when we had Blue Ribbon painted onto the Exies oval, so this is a continuation of this idea," Duncan said.

Principal Dean Owen said the reason for getting behind the club is based around personal reasons as well as business. "It's a way of showing our return support for a club that did so much for both Mark and myself in our football days," Owen said.

"We believe that this is a strategic sponsorship arrangement what will give us scope for a wide range of advertising opportunities.

"The Swans colours are the Toyota colours, it's a perfect partnership between two respected winning local teams."

(The Area News - Friday June 27, 2008).



GRIFFITH Swans coach Gerard Toscan said if his side loses this weekend to the Wagga Tigers, then they can kiss their Riverina Football League finals aspirations goodbye. The stark warning comes after the Swans have lost their last two games at the hand of Narrandera and Coolamon, after surprising many pundits in the league by winning four in a row. The winning streak had some of the competition leaders looking over their shoulders, but for Toscan a loss to the Swans long-time rivals this weekend would see their season as good as over.

"This weekend is our last chance, we really need to win this weekend, because other sides above us on the table are knocking off other clubs left, right and centre," Toscan said. Toscan has made no secret of the fact he wants his side to play a free flowing, fast style of play this year, but by his own admission Coolamon last weekend outplayed the Swans at their own game. However, apart from a few slight player positional changes, the Griffith coach said his instructions would be the same in order to pull off an upset win over the current RFL leaders.

"They play a very uncompromising style of football, and we hate the Tigers with a passion," Toscan said. "They (Tigers) always go hard at it, head over the ball and every time they get a turnover, they switch the ball to the opposite side of the field and go forward in the open space," Toscan said. "Earlier this year against them (Tigers) and last weekend we fumbled the ball a lot, but we simply need to have clean possession. "But they do is, they are good for the RFL by making it a major competition.

We're restructuring our play a bit, the message will be the same, but we are trying a few new guys in a few different positions."

Despite losing a number of players from its flag winning side from last season, Toscan said the Tigers results this year show they have lost nothing with players that have been brought into the den for season 2008.

With a history of several heavy defeats at the hands of the Tigers in recent years, Toscan said he has made a promise to many of the longtime supporters of the club, that no matter what, this weekend's Swans side will play an attractive brand of football.

"We're really mindful of all the old supporters that have been coming to many of the home games recently," he said. "Win, lose or draw, we have promised them that we will get back to an attractive brand of footy, that's the best chance to win.

"If things aren't going our way early on, we just need to knuckle down and stay focused."  (The Area News - Friday July 4, 2008)



MILESTONE games are important ones for footballers, but a win over the Eastern Hawks this weekend will mean more for Craig Conlan than the triple figures game record. Conlan said he didn't even know this weekend's game marked his 100th, until he was told by a teammate last Wednesday at training.

However, despite his relaxed attitude towards the milestone, Conlan said he would love nothing more than to beat Hawks at their fortress of a home ground.  "The main thing for me this weekend is a win, I'll take it however it comes," Conlan said.

Speaking to The Area News while receiving a snowboarding lesson, Conlan joked that it may not be the best place to try and remain injury free ahead of his big game. But the roaming forward said he was confident of getting through his trip to the snow injury free, in a bid to finish off the season strongly.

"I haven't really been playing as consistently as I would like in the last few games, but hopefully that will change soon," he said. Swans coach Gerard Toscan said milestone games, no matter what the number is, are all important for players as a badge of honour worn to represent their commitment to the club.

"All milestone games are important to the player and the club as a whole, it's a testament to their longevity," Toscan said. "With a guy like Craig ... (who) is an important forward for us, it's good to have him because he has been a very consistent player." (The Area News - Friday August 1, 2008).



GRIFFITH Swans veteran Craig Conlan has picked up the Vic Hathaway medal for 2008, with voting for the prestigious title coming down to the very last game of the season. Conlan was on top of the pile with 35 votes, just one clear of on-baller Mick Duncan and two ahead of Brett Owen, who finished the year with 33 votes. Being the round 18 game against Ganmain-GGM, Duncan was ahead by two votes with the end result up in the air. However, with Duncan out suspended, it left the gate open for either Owen or Conlan, with the latter taking his chance to seal what has been a solid season in the first-grade strip.

In reserve grade, it was an outstanding first half of the season which led to Chris McGann being named best in the grade with a total of 28 votes. McGann was hampered by injury during the second half of the year, failing to poll in the final six games. Despite that, he had built up enough of a lead over his teammates to hold off fast-finishing Graham Foley on 25 votes and Daniel Keenan on 22. Foley could have gone close to taking outright honours despite missing most of the first half of the season following his marriage, while Keenan would have also felt like he had a chance at the top gong despite missing games through the middle of the season.

The under 18s best and fairest was awarded to Dylan Bruce, who was the clear winner on 35 votes, nine ahead of the next best. Hayden Shaw capped off a successful year, snagging second, while Jack Tyrell rounded out the places with 24 votes. Oliver Delves, who left the club mid-season was tied for third.

The achievement of the Griffith Swans netball sides was also celebrated with the best and fairest in the club being awarded for their efforts in this season. Di White was awarded the best and fairest award in A grade, with Alison Ward celebrated for her efforts for the year in B grade. Kim Savage was nominated as the best played in C grade for the year, while Peta Larkin flew the flag in the junior division.

(The Area News - Monday, September 1, 2008).

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