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PLAYER TRANSFERS

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).

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 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). 

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 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). 

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 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).'

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 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).