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PLAYER TRANSFERS

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 CONSIDERING RUGBY LEAGUE SWITCH - By Scott Hazlewood 

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).

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 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). 

 NEW SWAN FEELS NEED FOR SPEED - By Scott Hazlewood 

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).

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 BERTACCO IS READY TO FLY ABOVE PACK - By Scott Hazlewood 

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).

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 SWANS TO STAMP THEIR AUTHORITY ON SAINTS THIS SUNDAY - By Nick Pearson 

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).

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