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IN: Gary Argus (Hillston), Aaron Cocks (Macorna), Dean Crack, Mathew Crack, James Fallon, Sam Huxtable (Hay Lions), James Nancarrow (Hillston Swans), Matthew Noonan (Wagga Tigers), Glenn Taylor (Hay Lions), Chris Toohey (Rivcoll).
OUT: Robert Bridgen, Ryan Bull (Coleambally), Craig Conlan, Brett Davis (Hay Lions), Jack Geddes (Southport), Zac Lewis (Murrumbeena), Daniel Meade, Glenn Snaidero (Rivcoll), James Toscan (Avonvale Heights), Jeremy Way (Thurgoona).
SWANS GET LIFELINE OF FRESH TALENT FOR 2009 - By Nick Pearson
Aussie Rules fans can look forward to a thrilling 2009 season, with the Griffith Swans bringing some exciting new talent into their side.
The Swans have attracted fresh blood from clubs from the Golden Rivers League, the Northern Riverina Football League and from other teams in the RFL, signings that could make the difference in 2009.
Joining the are Jimmy Nancarrow, Aaron Cocks and Chris Toohey, all players with their own special talents.
The Swans failed to make the finals in 2008, with strong performances in some games cancelled out by weak performance in others.
But the Swans had greater potential than their on-paper position indicated, having beaten the two grand finals teams, Ganmain-GGM and Leeton-Whitton, in earlier stages of the competition. But an absolute thrashing at the hands of Ganmain-GGM in August - 173 to 20 - means the Swans' performances is sporadic and vulnerable when star players are missing.
Swans coach Gerard Toscan said he is excited with the influx of new talent into the team. "We're pretty confident, and if we keep everyone and added those four and look to add another couple, we'll have a great team," he said. "I think we're keen to have another crack."
Jimmy Nancarrow played an important role in bringing NRFL team Hillston to the grand final in the 2008 competition, and it is hoped he make as much of an impact on the wing for the Swans. Aaron Cocks has come up from from the Golden Rivers league, and the full-forward will add some size to the Swans' lineup.
Meanwhile, former Rivcoll player Chris Toohey will be joining the team next year, even though he has been training with the Swans for months now. While coming in from a strong Wagga Tigers team, Matt Noonan is taking on the role of co-assistant coach, as well as adding some strength to the full-back position. "I'm just looking for a challenge to introduce myself to a new group of guys," Noonan said.
"I'll be looking to play at the level I'm used to at the Tigers, but also try and instill it in some of my teammates as well."
Also promoted to the role of co-assistant coach is Mick Duncan, who proved to be one of the standout players in last year's competition.
(The Area News - Wednesday October 15, 2008).
BRAD AIMS FOR MORE GOAL POSTS - By Scott Hazlewood
Local Australian Rules supporter Brad George has started a campaign to get more goal posts installed in the Griffith region. George said while the Exies Oval facilities were top class, they were often locked away from children and others who wanted to have a social kick or practice their skills in front of goal. "It's just a good move because once they lock the Exies Oval up there won't be any AFL goal posts for kids or outlying teams to use." George said. "Even Auskick which is run through the Griffith Swans will probably have access to Exies Oval, but if the kids want to go for a kick after school there is nothing for them."
George, who is an ardent Collingwood fan, said even sides from out of town could be left out in the cold if access to Exies Oval was restricted. "Clubs do come into town, like Coleambally and Hillston, they can do the skill work, but when they want to have shots on goal there is nothing for them," he said. George is starting a petition, which will appear in several local stores and soon be accompanied by a letter of approval from Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell. George is also taking his fight to the internet through social networking website Facebook. "That's a good way to gauge if there is any interest and in the first two or three days 50 signed on, just to say they are behind the idea, and there are all kinds of people on there - men, women and even people that don't have much to do with Aussie Rules," he said.
(The Area News - January 30, 2009).
RFL SEASON KICKS OFF ON HIGH NOTE
The build-up for the opening round of the Riverina Football League season has hit full swing with the introduction of an exciting season launch. RFL's biggest names were all in attendance at Narrandera Ex-Servicemen's Club on Sunday as the 2009 season was officially launched. As part of a new initiative by the RFL, the competition came together to celebrate the start of the season, now less than a week away. Southern NSW AFL regional manager Paul Habel opened proceedings before president Graham Buchanan addressed clubs.
A ceremonial cutting of a cake was held to declare the season open before all club coaches and assistants gathered for a group photo with the premiership cup. RFL president Graham Buchanan praised the season launch concept and backed it to become a bigger and better annual event. "It's gone very, very well," Buchanan said. "I think it's a great idea and it's definitely something we'll continue to improve on."
A concept raised and put together by administration secretary Shane Buchanan, the launch was the perfect introduction to the opening week of the season. In addition to the new-look RFL competition, the season opens with a "super Saturday", with all five games held on the one day for the only time this year. Shane Buchanan said the launch was all part of raising the profile of the RFL. "It's a more professional approach," Buchanan said. "It's about raising the profile of the league and it's been well supported in it's first year."
More than 50 players, officials and guests attended yesterday's event. Netball also featured highly in the launch, another indication of the league's plan to dig deeper into the sport. New netball president Stephen Cook was unable to attend, but had a speech read on his behalf, while most clubs also had netball representatives attend. Riverina Umpires Association chief Peter Hughes addressed the launch, while new sports trainers association boss Zane Fraser also spoke to the crowd.
One of the highlights of the day was the life membership awarded to tribunal chairman Kevin Barber. Barber was recognised for 27 years of service to the league and reflected his times involved. (The Daily Advertiser - Monday March 30, 2009).
SWANS SET TO BATTLE FOR A SOLID FIRST ROUND VICTORY - By Nick Pearson
The Griffith Swans are quietly confident ahead of the first game of the 2009 RFL season against North Wagga on Saturday, after they soundly defeated the Northern Jets in a pre-season practice match at Ariah Park last Friday evening, 12.10 (82) to 5.5 (35). The Swans suffered from a wobbly start in the practice match, but easily began to dominate proceedings once they hit their stride. Coach Gerard Toscan said it was a good sign the team were in a good position to start off the season. "We had a pretty slow start, but once the guys started hitting the targets we got control of the game from after quarter time," he said. "A couple of young guys who I hadn't really considered for selection really came forward, which impressed me." Toscan said dealing with the pressure of the game was something the team will need to get used to.
"We've just about covered everything at training, but the decision making skills is really highlighted in match practices because the pressure makes a big difference to players." "Sometimes it's a skill error, but the decision making of some players needs work, because in high pressure situations, you can get tunnel vision, or be in too much of a rush." But Toscan hopes the shaky start to the Northern Jets game is something that won't happen when the season begins outright. "We win the footy, but it's kicking to space and kicking to position which needs work," he said. The Swans will be looking for a solid victory this weekend when they take on North Wagga, to put them in a good position for the start of the season. "Were quietly confident, because at this stage compared to last year, we're a better team," Toscan said.
"We're not taking the game lightly, because we know North Wagga are quite keen." Adding to the challenge that the game will be played in Wagga, and Toscan is hopeful last years away game stigma won't have a negative effect on the team. "We know North Wagga struggled last year, but we've heard they're improved and they really want to put up a good showing," he said. "We know they need to win to get some credibility, and we need to win to start out on top of the ladder." (The Area News - Wednesday April 1, 2009).
INJURY CUTS OUT RUCKMAN CURRAN - By Scott Hazlewood
The Griffith Swans have suffered a set-back ahead of their game against the Eastern Hawks, with the news key ruckman Shaun Curran has been ruled out of action for a month with a knee cartilage injury. Curran suffered the injury in freakish circumstances last weekend, when he called for assistance from a trainer after stretching a quadriceps muscle on the sideline. Swans coach Gerard Toscan said Curran's loss was a "massive blow" for the side, but added he was better equipped for his loss than last weekend. I was talking to his dad (Frank) earlier and he said he was operated on today (Wednesday), but he should up and around and walking in a day or two and back in about four weeks, " Toscan said. "It doesn't matter that it went last week, the doctors apparently said it was going to happen, so it's better to happen in the second week of the comp rather than two weeks from the finals. Griffith's chances of beating the Hawks have improved this week, with a number of players back from injury and others stepping up to fill vital positions. "We'll have the Johns brothers back this week - we really missed them last week," Toscan said. "I think we'll go with Michael Harris as ruckman, I thought he went really well last weekend.
He doesn't give us the run that Shaun does or the speed around the ground, but he works pretty hard. "We've got Matt Kenny coming back (achilles) and he might take over at centre half-back. "Look, we were restricted at what we could do last weekend, but had we gone down by the half-time margin (16 points) that would have been a moral victory for our side. "We just had to hang on because of the lack of personnel, and some fitness issues with a couple of key players, but that was all I pointed out on Sunday evening and I just hope the guys respond in the right way." (By Scott Hazlewood - The Area News, Friday April 24, 2009).
CROWS' GIANT TARGETED - By Scott Hazlewood
Stopping Leeton-Whitton ruckman Paul Scoullar will be top of the list of things to do for Griffith Swans coach Gerard Toscan in his side's blockbuster clash at Exies No. 1 on Sunday. The 203cm giant will form a potent combination with Jarrod Gornall, and shutting them down will be the prime concern for the Swans if they are to record their third win this season. Adding spice to the clash this weekend is who will match up against the prize Leeton-Whitton recruits, who have consistently been among the Crows' best this season. Griffith chased the duo heavily in the off-season but lost out to their neighbours, with Toscan well aware of what the pair can do if they decide on Sunday is the time to fire.
The Swans leader admitted his side has not gained respect from the powerhouses of the RFL after its capitulation against Ganmain-GGM in round two. But said a dominant win over the Crows would send a message to the rest of the competition that the Swans mean business this season. The game is important for both sides for different reasons, with the Crows looking to gain some momentum this season after being win less in the first three rounds. While Griffith will be desperate to prove it is a serious finals contender this year, and a third win in the first month of the competition will go a long way towards that.
In further good news for the Swans, star full-forward Aaron Cocks found his range in front of goals last weekend with five against Eastern Hawks, and the Griffith coach believes he would only get better from now on. "He was marking the ball really cleanly, the best he's held it all through pre-season and the season proper, and he's in sync," Toscan said." And Mick Duncan was pretty good against Ganmain-GGM, but he's ready to take a game by the scruff of the neck and Matt Noonan; you can really see the confidence building with him as well.
The Crows are a shadow of the side that made the grand final last year, with a mass exodus of players leaving the club in the off-season. But coach Matt Smith has bigger worries this weekend, including a spluttering forward line. "We've a little bit behind where we would expect ourselves and our team to be, but it's something that we have been working pretty hard on over the last few weeks," Smith said. "Josh Hall and Jade Hodge were the two better forwards in the competition last year, and when you have your tallest forward at only a bit over six foot, you get a guy a couple of inches taller and he's always going to out-mark him." (The Area News - Friday May 1, 2009).'
SIMPKIN'S MILESTONE - By Scott Hazlewood
The saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and Rodney Simpkin has been waiting - and waiting. This Sunday, Simpkin plays his 50th game for the Griffith Swans but what makes his feat even more amazing is the fact it has been eight years since his first game in the senior side. Swans first grade coach Gerard Toscan said Simpkin is one of the true characters of the club. "He's a travelling wilbury that's for sure," Toscan said. "He turned up to a pre-season meeting last year when I was appointed coach and said 'I'll be there, unless I'm snowboarding in Japan, I've got to go and do some work in London, then I'll be in Japan but I'll be back in April'. "Some people said he was coming back, I said I'll believe it when I see it. "He's a bit of a character, he's not overly endowed in skill, but he can take a lead at a footy and when he's back in Australia he's right in amongst it." Despite having a weekend to forget after its thrashing at the hands of Wagga Tigers, Toscan said the newest member of the 50-game club was one of the better players on the ground. "He was good for us last week and with his unorthodox kicking style he did really well to kick 4.1," he said. (The Area News - Friday May 15, 2009).
FLYING THE COOP - By Scott Hazlewood
The Griffith Swans will be a part of a new "AFL Riverina Country division" after the region's administrators handed down their blueprint for the future of the code on Friday. After months of speculations, the Riverina and Farrer Football Leagues will no longer exist past this year, with the two competitions being combined under the newly renamed regional competition. Clubs will be divided into geographically based leagues, with Griffith finding itself in the Country competition alongside Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Leeton-Whitton, Narrandera, Marrar, Northern Jets and Temora. The eight-team City division will feature Wagga Tigers, Turvey Park, Eastern Hawks, North Wagga, Mangoplah-CUE, Collingullie-AK, Coolamon and Rivcoll. The divisions will then merge mid-season, with the top four sides from each competition then contesting the Riverina Cup, while the remainder will fight it out for the Farrer Cup. (The Area News - Monday June 22, 2009).
SWANS SAY BRING ON NEW FORMAT - By Scott Hazlewood
Griffith Swans president Robert Harrington has given the new blueprint for the code in the Riverina his thumbs up, after the radical plan was unveiled by AFL (NSW/ACT) officials last week. The new competition is designed to solve issues of the ailing Farrer League, with the proposed AFL Riverina competition seeing the Griffith Swans moved into a Country division against three other Riverina Football League side's and three Farrer League clubs. Harrington said the club will meet this week to pick over the details of the blueprint but said on initial inspection the plan suits the future of the Swans.
"I have only looked at it on Friday. I thought it wasn't too bad, it could have been a lot worse, but on first look it's not too bad," Harrington said. "Most of the people I spoke to at footy (Sunday) said 'yeah it's radical, yeah it might take a while to get used to and two years down the track we'll get to see if it works', but until then I think we just have to go with it."
Griffith had fears the club would be locked out of a largely Wagga-centric competition, with junior numbers eventually affected because of the lack of competition. However, Harrington said under the new structure, if the club's first grade side is able to maintain its standards in the new Country division, the second half of the season is likely to be very similar to the competition they are part of now.
"We can see if we play to our form then we should be playing against the Wagga sides in the latter half of the year anyway, which gives you the maximum four trips to Wagga," he said. The other major concern for the Swans during the questionnaire period, was that it might be forced to play more Saturday football, but last week's plan outlined the power to play on either day of the weekend has remained entirely with the host club. Clubs will have until the end of next week to forward their written submission on the plan, which will be the centre of discussion at a RFL league meeting next week. (The Area News - Wednesday June 24, 2009).
SWANS' COACH STEPS DOWN - By Scott Hazlewood
Griffith Swans coach Gerard Toscan has made the shock decision to step down from the position mid-season in a bid to kick-start his side's flagging season. Speaking to The Area News on Monday, Toscan's decision came only one day after breaking a six-game losing streak by handing North Wagga its biggest loss of the season, a 95-point thrashing at Exies Oval.
Injuries to key midfielders and losses against Turvey Park and Narrandera have grounded the Swans this season, but Toscan hoped by handing the reigns over to senior players Matt Noonan and Mick Duncan, the side would be able to find the spark it has been missing all year.
Toscan will still be involved with the club for the next month in an assistant role, with Noonan and Duncan to split the next month's coaching duties evenly in the lead-up to the general bye on July 25. After that, the club will look at its future and decide whether the new coaching arrangement will stay in place for the remaining month of the season.
Saying it was hard to step down, Toscan said he was not pressured into doing so by the club and hoped the team would rally around Noonan and Duncan in a bid to salvage something from its season. "We have got the toughest test of the year at Ganmain this weekend and it is throwing Matt into the wolves, but his form has been gradually building over the last month and this (coaching) might give him another boost for him to go to another level," Toscan said.
"There is a change, but I was clear on blokes having a crack and the club trying to improve and build towards the future, it does put pressure on those guys (Duncan, Noonan), but they (Ganmain) need to understand that we're not going to go away." Noonan has already taken a hands-on role with the club this season, often running training drills and working with the club's young players, with the change not a drastic leap for the experienced defender.
Toscan also revealed this week Griffith has begun the search for a big-name to possibly replace him full-time next season, saying the club deserved to find a level of success. "There is no point in the club having a big bank account and miss out on the finals," he said.
"Supporters are there and they continue to work hard and contribute financially towards the club, and they do that for one reason, to see on-field success from their first-grade side." Despite not being able to take the side to the finals since taking over the job from Luke McLean in 2008, Toscan said he had enjoyed seeing the club' younger players bloom into first graders.
"Over the last 18 months we tried to build up the player stocks within our own group, because a few years ago there was a fair exodus of players from the club, and that presented an opportunity for a few young guys to stick their hands up," he said.
(The Area News - Wednesday June 24, 2009).
D-DAY FOR SWANS - By Scott Hazlewood
August 15th (round 17 clash with Narrandera) looms as the most important date for the Griffith Swans for the past 20 years, as the club attempts to stay out of the relegation zone destined for the Farrer League next year.
The Swans have been put in the unwanted position after AFL NSW/ACT handed down it's amended competition structure in the Riverina last week, with a promotion-relegation system to be in place from 2010 onward between the Riverina and Farrer Leagues.
The bottom three teams of this year's RFL competition will move back to form an eight-team competition, but local officials fear the move could put the future of the club in jeopardy. Senior player Mick Duncan said while the outcome is still in the hands of the first-grade side, a move out of the premier competition would be a major stumbling block in Griffith's bid to get new blood into the club.
"We're trying to attract players from out of town to the club, and from my point of view if I was going to leave this competition, I would want to go to a stronger one, so it's going to be a lot harder to attract players to Griffith if we fall back into the Farrer League, that's for sure," Duncan said. The process of amending both competitions has caused months of conjecture, however the newly accepted promotion-relegation system still has plenty of detractors.
Right from the start, the Swans have objected to playing more games on Saturday football no matter which league they play in, but if the club is forced into the Farrer League, Duncan believes playing numbers across the board could be affected.
"If we drop back to the Farrer League, at the moment we train three nights a week - you'd probably go back to two nights and at the moment we play a fair bit of Sunday footy, if we drop down, we're going to play a lot of Saturday footy," he said.
"If we have to go to Wagga on a Saturday like we did last weekend, we only get 10 or 12 reserves grade players due to work and other commitment, and with the under 17s, a lot of them still go to school so they have part-time jobs.
"It also affects the netball side of it as well for exactly the same reason because of work, and a lot of the netballers in the Swans play local comp netball on the Saturday, so they are probably more inclined to say 'if I have to go to, say, Temora on a Saturday and play for the Swans, I can just stay and play in Griffith. (The Area News - Wednesday August 5, 2009).
CHANCE FOR SWANS TO AVOID DEMOTION - By Scott Hazlewood
Griffith have been thrown a lifeline for season 2010, with the AFL agreeing to an amended promotion-relegation competition structure this week for the Riverina and Farrer Football Leagues with the Swans given another year to prove they belong in the top competition. A week ago the AFL announced the promotion-relegation competition would be implemented at the end of 2009, with the bottom three teams in the RFL to drop down and as part of a-eight team Farrer competition. The move placed incredible pressure on the Narrandera Eagles and Griffith ahead of this weekend's game, with the loser all but certain of dropping to the less prestigious league. However, the new competition structure will see two eight team competitions, with the Eastern Hawks and North Wagga Saints to be demoted from the Riverina Football League after this season, with promotion and relegation to begin in 2011 based on next season's results.
Despite the lengthy debate seemingly coming to an end, AFL NSW-ACT business development manager Garry Buchanan expected Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka to formally request a transfer to the RFL in the near future. "They have indicated that if they did not get elevated into the RFL in 2010 then they will be appealing to do so," Buchanan said. "It would be our recommendation they stay where they are until next year and do have the following year if they are the premiers in the Farrer Football League to promote themselves to the RFL, but there is a process in place that is fair and transparent.
Griffith coach Matt Noonan admitted the pressure had been released somewhat om his side after the agreement, but said no matter what decision was made, the club was looking to finish 2009 strongly. "That's the scenario that is in front of us now, but we are always going out to win no matter what happened regarding next year," Noonan said. "We all knew it (demotion) could happen, everyone reads the newspaper and listens to the radio and we talk about it a bit, but it all comes down to a pride thing - whether we want Griffith to stand up and be in the top league in the area. (The Area News - Wednesday August 12, 2009).
LAST MINUTE RESULT IN SWANS' BEST & FAIREST 2009 SEASON VOTE COUNT
The Griffith Swans pulled down the curtain on what has been one of its less memorable seasons when it held its best & fairest count at the Exies Sports Club on Sunday afternoon. First grade went down to the wire with the final result not being known until the votes from the last game were tallied. In the end Brett Owen won the Vic Hathaway Medal with 36 votes from Shaun Curran on 30 and Michael Duncan on 29. The Reserves was also a very close one with Daniel Best finally taking the prize after polling BOG votes for his last three games and finishing with 37 votes from Brad Woolner on 31 and Glenn Taylor on 18. The under 17s struggled all year for numbers and unfortunately had to forfeit four of their away games which were played on a Saturday. It was a runaway victory for Casey Moore who polled 47 votes with his nearest competitor being Ben McRae on 31 and first-time player, Craig Burge on 21. The club is now looking towards 2010 and is looking to recruit key players to boost the seniors and hope to entice former footballers back to the fold. They hope to have a strong under 17s side in 2010 with a the under 15s having had large numbers this year and taking out their premiership. (The Area News - Friday August 28, 2009).
CHANGES TO THE REGIME - By Matt Malone
Former Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong footballer Jason McPherson will replace Paul Habel as Southern NSW AFL regional manager next year. The AFL announced changes to its administration this week with Habel to step into a new football service role. After nine years working with AFL in Sydney, McPherson has decided on a return home to the Riverina, where he will become the new regional manager.
Habel will become football services manager, while Luke Olsen will now be full-time in umpire development. The changes go through a transition period from November before officially taking effect from January 2010. AFL NSW-ACT business development manager Garry Buchanan said it was a result for the region. "For the region it means another senior position into the office, which is terrific, really," Buchanan said. "This is the highest level of resources we're even had, and I don't think any other sport in the region matches it.
"It means we have six full-time positions plus casual positions while James Ceely and I work across the region as well." McPherson replaces Habel, who spent five years as regional manager after moving from Griffith. McPherson has spent the past nine years in Sydney, most recently as regional manager in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Buchanan said the changes had been on the cards for some time.
"Jason has been keen on a move back for a while and we're keen to increase resources," Buchanan said. Habel's role will predominantly be dealing with leagues and clubs, along with reviews and strategic planning.
Olsen's move to full-time umpire development is a great result for the sport, with more time and resources being poured into putting umpire programs in schools and recruiting whistle-blowers to the game. (The Daily Advertiser - Friday September 4, 2009).
Restructure appeals are dismissed: Two eight-team competition will go ahead in 2010 after an independent tribunal dismissed three appeals against AFL NSW-ACT's proposed restructure. Eastern Hawks, North Wagga and Collingullie-Ashmont-Kapooka all had their appeals heard on last Tuesday night but were dismissed at the hearing held at AFL House. The tribunal was headed by Peter Friedlieb and ruled in favour of the AFL, meaning all three clubs will form part of the Farrer League next season.