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IN: Jethro Calma-Holt (Waratah-NT), Dylan Cudmore (Bright), Rick Daniher (Charles Sturt University), Andrew Hawkins (Dalby Swans), Tim Matheson (Tullibigeal), Tom Miller (Rosebud)
OUT: Brendan Giason, Tim McMahon, Jeffrey Mickan (Barellan), Luke Piccolo, Beau Runnalls (Palm Beach-Currumbin), James Smith, Theo Valeri (Canberra).
NOTHING BUT FINALS: ORTON – By Scott Hazlewood
Griffith Swans coach Guy Orton said it’s finals or bust for his side as they slog it out during an intensive pre-season training program. After several disappointing years for the club and its supporters, the Swans narrowly missed out on the Riverina Football League final last year by mere percentage points. Buoyed by the inclusion of Orton, Che Jenkins, Tom Buckley and Beau Runnalls, the Swans were more competitive against most sides in the competition. But to coming so close to post-season action, Orton said his men are determined to leave nothing to chance this season. “At the first training session I told the boys it’s finals or nothing less, so that’s where we are aiming,” Orton said.
“Training is going really well and all of the boys are really keen to get stuck into the season.” Orton himself made a splash winning the Jim Quinn Medal in his first season in the red and white, but the classy midfielder will have the advantage in 2012, having gone through a comprehensive preparation. “It is great to have a decent pre-season, myself and a couple of other guys have been living here for a fair while now so we’re into a good routine,” he said. “So it’s just good to be training with the guys right from the start. “And I was speaking with one of our signings and he’ll be training with the side from mid February which is good because it won’t be like what we did and got here one week and where then playing the next.”
Unlike previous seasons, where Griffith struggled to attract new blood, the Swans have been inundated by quality signings. New players Stuart Cooper and Andrew Hawkins will line up this season, while favourite son, Tim Matheson is also making a return to Exies Oval. Orton said he heard good things about Matheson and he looks to have shaken off most of the effects of a dislocated hip he sustained last year while playing for Tullibigeal in the Northern Riverina Football League.
While Orton, Buckley and Jenkins have committed themselves to the club, The Area News asked if the club had heard of Runnalls’ intentions. “I’ve spoken to Che (Jenkins) and he‘s talked to him a bit, but last thing I heard was that he signed with a team in Queensland,” Orton said. “I got him to come down here, and when I said to the other boys at end of the season ‘I’m signing on as a coach and I need to know what you’re doing’ Che said he’d stay and Beau said he didn’t know what he was doing. “But apparently he’s been saying the Griffith Swans didn’t want him , but that’s not the case at all. “We gave him the chance and he said he wasn’t ready, and went to Darwin and then went to Melbourne, so we’re not sure what he’s doing at this stage.” (The Area News, Friday January 27, 2012).
JENKINS’ NEW ROLE TO BOOST AFL’s PROFILE
Accomplished Griffith footballer Che Jenkins has joined the AFL ranks as MIA development manger. Jenkins will become the first full-time AFL staff member to be based in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area since Paul Habel’s move to Wagga seven years ago. Jenkins beat a handful of applications from across the country and will begin his new roll today. Southern NSW AFL development manager Marc Geppert said Jenkins’ appointment would be of great benefit to sport in the region. “Che will be the man on the ground out here for us,” Geppert said. “He’ll be dealing with primary and secondary schools and assist with running programs there. “He’ll also be the local contact for the local junior teams in the area. “His main priority will be continuing the growth in the bigger places like Griffith and Leeton while sustaining the growth in places like Narrandera and some of the smaller Northern Riverina communities.”
Jenkins arrived in Griffith early last year as one the Swans‘ big recruits from the Northern Territory. He enjoyed a stellar first year across half-back for Griffith and gained selection in the Riverina Football League representative team. Geppert described Jenkins as a perfect man for the job. “Che’s a really good fit for the role,” Geppert said. “He’s a good senior footy player and he’s played footy across three different states and has done development work in the Northern Territory.
“His experience in junior development is a big positive and the fact he is still young and playing means he will get active and also be a roll model to the kids.” As part of Jenkins’ role he will also work towards getting an AFL 9s competition off the ground and also work on building female participation. Geppert said the MIA will notice a difference with Jenkins’ appointment. “It’s fantastic because he’s the first full-time person we’ve had over there in seven or eight years,” Geppert said. With the potential of places like Griffith and Leeton we need someone full-time over there. “Che will account for the region and be given more responsibility than just school programs.” (The Area News, Monday February 6, 2012).
FLOODS SHELVES SWANS HIT-OUT – By Scott Hazlewood
Griffith Swans captain-coach Guy Orton said the flood crisis had forced the club to postpone its annual pre-season trial against the Coleambally Blues. But with the start of the Riverina Football League less than a month away, the Swans are not letting the chance for match practice pass them by, with Griffith to play an inter-club trial at Exies Oval tonight.
Orton said the game was a chance for all players to impress selectors before their first full hit-out of 2012, before adding he does not expect anyone to hold back. “They’re all keen to have a run so we’re going to have an inter-club trial because it’s a bit hard with the flood to get across there (Coleambally,” Orton said. “I’m hoping everybody will go 100 per cent, and hopefully we won’t get any injuries from the night. “If we do then we’d prefer to have it now so the guys have got a couple of weeks to get over it before the season begins.”
One of Griffith’s big name off-season signings, Jethro Calma-Holt, was tipped to be in the city in time for the clash, but will arrive early next week and suit up against the Blues next weekend. Orton said he was keen to get Calma-Holt into the side’s rotation, but said there there was still plenty of promise about the club’s younger brigade, especially after several made impressive debuts in first grade last season.
Fans of the club will get to see some of their returning stars with Tim Matheson again making Exies Oval his home, while new ruckman Andrew Hawkins and Charles Sturt University’s Rick Daniher will add his class and experience to the side. Brett Owen has returned from a year off with injury and James Fallon is set to have a bigger role in red and white after gaining full fitness again after a number of niggling injuries. (The Area News, Friday March 16, 2012).
SWANS DEALT A BLOW AS COOPER GOES MISSING - By Scott Hazelwood
Griffith Swans coach Guy Orton backed his young side to bounce back to form as they host the Coolamon Hoppers in the third round of the Riverina Football League at Exies Oval. It has been a horror start to the season for the Swans after being trounced by Narrandera and Leeton-Whitton, but Orton said his men have to learn from their mistakes and are moving on. We've had some good training sessions this week, and we know this weekend is going to be another tough game, but the boys are ready to hit back," Orton said.
But in a big blow to the side, gun full-forward Stuart Cooper has seemingly reneged on his deal with the club after putting pen to paper before the season started. Cooper was set to be a late inclusion into the Swans side for round one, but when he was a no-show, club officials began asking questions. "We don't know what he's doing at this stage, I messaged him a week before the first game and now he's not answering anybody's calls," Orton said. "It's just very disappointing, and I'm more disappointed than anybody else because my connections with him. "And it was not like it was a handshake agreement with the club, he had signed a contract. "We're going to have to (chase him), but that's all out of my hands at the moment." Asked if he would take Cooper back if he had a change of heart. Orton said he would be silly to ignore a player of his talent but hoped he could commit to the club. "Yeah definitely, we could rearrange how we have the side, but what I want from him is just to know what's going on and why he has not returned calls," he said.
Coolamon will be hungry to bounce back to form after losing to the Wagga Tigers by 25 points last round, but in a boost for the home side Tim Matheson and potentially Matt Crack set to be named. Brett Owen and Glen Snaidero are still at least a fortnight away, but their inclusion could not come quick enough for the Swans, who find themselves in the last spot after two rounds. "We've got a lot of new guys to the club and we have played a couple of kids that have only played one or two games in first grade," Orton said. "So once we get a few of those key forwards in our side then we won't have to move people around as much, so our backline will be able to settle down and then we can work on the structure of our forward line." (The Area News - Friday April 27, 2012).
DOUBLE CENTURY - By Scott Hazlewood
Jonathon O’Dwyer remembers the day well when he laid eyes on a skinny kid with a mop of ginger hair and knew he’ found something special. While he might have been three years off being able to enjoy a beer after the game, the former Swans coach knew Michael Duncan, or Mick to his mates, would be a star of the proud club. And now, 14 seasons after his first grade debut, Duncan will join the exclusive club populated by some of the biggest names in the Swans history, as he plays his 200th first grade game against Turvey Park tomorrow at Exies Oval. O’Dwyer, along with former coach Phil Rowston, had a big impact on helping mould the midfield maestro into the player he is today, but many of his skills needed to succeed were already hardwired into his DNA. “I was there for four years and he was one of these very elusive players, even though he was so young he had this ability to weave his way through traffic and get out of trouble quickly,” O’Dwyer said. “That was the biggest thing for me I noticed, but I knew he had something about him, I’ve seen a couple of players like him at that age but they’re few and far between. “He just seemed to be able to dance around people and he’d be able to make something out of nothing.” or a 15-year old making his first grade debut, the biggest goal would be to get a handful of possessions and not get in the way. But Duncan made his mark on the side right from game one, as he kicked three goals against East-Wagga-Kooringal on July 5, 1998. “I remember a bit of it, the main thing I remember is being told on the Friday night I was playing in first grade, which was a bit bizarre,” Duncan said of his first grade call-up. “I had a lot of good blokes around me back then, so they said they’re look after me so I wasn’t to worried about that.” Over the years Duncan has been offered the world by clubs all over the country, but he kept coming back to Exies Oval in a move he said was a pretty simple one. The lure of another Riverina Football League premiership to go with his 2003 flag has been the driving force, but Duncan said he probably won’t shoot for the club’s all-time most appearance, that belonging to Sid Robins with 309 games between 1963 and 1980. “I did have a lot of offers over the years, and it was always a goal of mine to get 200 but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll go around for,” he said. “Playing footy and basketball the body is feeling it a bit and there’s other things I want to start doing in life, so I’m not sure how much longer I’ll play, I’ll think about it at the of the season. “But I look at places like Ganmain and some of the guys there might have played 60 or 70 first grade games and they have three or four premiership titles to go with that. “So that’s one of the things I’d like to change, it’s an honour to get to 200 games, but I’d love to have three or four premierships to go with it.” While the Swans’ club games record might elude him, Duncan may be able to etch his name in the club’s history books if he kicks another 31 goals this season and passes Jamie Bennett’s record of 388. Swans coach Guy Orton paid tribute to Duncan’s contribution to the club, and said the milestone will drive them during them during their clash with the Bulldogs. “To play senior footy for 200 games for any sort of club, it’s pretty amazing,” Orton said. “We want to try and win this weekend’s game for everybody, but we’d love to try and give Mick a win on his 200th, that will top it off, last weekend was one stop towards our goal and so is this weekend.” (The Area News, Friday May 4, 2012).
SWANS KEEN TO KEEP UP WINNING STREAK FOR PINK DAY - By Emily Tinker
GRIFFITH Swans coach Guy Orton will reply on his players experience and height to continue the squad's three-game winning streak when they take on Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong at Exies Oval this Sunday. The squad has been on a brilliant run since returning home to the Sporties after their disappointing start to the season, and coach Guy Orton said he wanted to give supporters something to cheer about in their last home game for five rounds. "It's something the boys are pretty confident about," Orton said. "But it's not something we're taking lightly. "Ganmain haven't had the best start to the season, but they're still ranked among the top contenders after their last couple of years." With the weekend being annual Pink Day, Orton said there was even more incentive for the boys to lift and grab the victory. "We'd like to get the win at home in the pink, it's been a few years I believe," he said. But Orton said the squad could not afford to have another slow start like last weekend, which saw them trailing Mangoplah by 33 points at the first break. "We came out pretty relaxed and this weekend we definitely can't do that against a side like Ganmain - we've got to come out firing on all cylinders," he said. "Credit to the boys to turn it around but we can't come out half-hearted this weekend, it's got to be full bore." With no injuries and a full complement of players, Orton said selection was going to be tough, but he would be taking Ganmain's bigger side into consideration when picking his squad. "I's going to be hard for selection this week due to the good win," he said. "The last couple of weeks we've had about four or five under 17s step. They're good footballers, and some would be in the top 22, but they're not that experienced - it's going to be a hard selection. Orton said while the last three wins have been a great confidence-booster for the squad, Sunday's clash was going to test the skill of everyone on his team. (The Area News - Friday May 18, 2012).
LOADED AND LOADED – By Scott Hazlewood
The Griffith Swans arsenal will be overflowing with three new faces joining their first-grade squad to take on the Wagga Tigers in a blockbuster Riverina Football League clash at Maher Oval tomorrow. Fresh from their nail-biting win against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Griffith coach Guy Orton revealed the club had picked up three handy additions in the form of Tom Miller, Dylan Cudmore and 2011 sensation Tom Buckley. Buckley elected to leave the club at the end of last season due to family and educational commitments but has returned to Exies Oval in an unexpected boost for the club. Tom Miller, who is likely to play in the back-pocket this weekend, lined up in the red and whites for the first time in the side’s win against the Lions, and Orton liked what he saw early. “He’s played about 130 games with Rosebud in Victoria and won a grand final with them,” Orton said of Miller. “He’s a very good player and on top of him we’ve got Tom Buckley coming back as well, as he was just unhappy where he was, so he came back.” Cudmore will add more height to Griffith through the middle of the field and allow Andrew Hawkins to play his more natural role. “We had our eyes on him last year, but his older brother (Judd) played here last year in the two’s, and Gerald Toscan is a really good friend with their dad, so we’ve been chasing another tall for a while,” Orton said of Cudmore. “We didn’t expect all these guys to come as they have, and with the last couple of wins everybody is up and about, and people want to be part of the club and the supporters have been fantastic as well.”
Despite boasting a line-up bulging with talent, Orton knows the next month on the road will define the first half of the Swans’ RFL season. But Griffith’s ability to fight back from upwards of six goals down in their last two competition games shows the rest of the competition the 2012 Swans will fight to the final siren. “If we get into that position again, we can say to each other that’s it’s nothing new and we know how to play our style of footy and we don’t want to be chasing the other team for the rest of the game,” Orton said. Griffith will also welcome back the experienced Che Jenkins, who returns after suffering an eye injury. (The Area News, Friday June 1, 2012).
NO EXCUSES LEFT FOR SWANS - By Scott Hazlewood
GRIFFITH Swans coach Guy Orton said his side is planning to turn up the pressure value at Kindra Park as they take on the Coolamon Hoppers in a crucial Riverina Football League clash on Sunday. The Swans got their season back on track with a comprehensive win against the Narrandera Eagles last round, but Orton admits his side will again need to perform against resurgent Hoppers outfit. Coolamon beat Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong by 30 points last weekend, and Orton believes by breathing down the Hoppers necks they will be rushed into rash decisions. "Just a lot of pressure worked last time we beat them, I went and watched them play Ganmain last Sunday and even when the Lions were coming back into the game they pressured them (Coolamon) and their skill level dropped," Orton said. "Which is what we did in the first round, so we just have to do it again. "But they had a few players out last time we played them and so did we asnd we had quite a few kids in the side, but we've pretty much got our full-strength team in so there's no excuses this time around." Two players Griffith will need to slow down if they are to record back-to-back wins are dangerous forward Adam McKenzie, who joined the club mid-season from North Wagga, and Jamie Maddox. "Jamie is a bloody good footballer and he wasn't playing for them against us last time, but when we watched him last weekend he's quite dangerous around stoppages," Orton said. "So we need to make sure we're manned up, but not just that but being on the right side of our opponent so we can push them to the boundary. "Brett Owen and Matty Crack will get the job on Jamie because they're hard around the ball and their game knowledge should work well, but we can't just concentrate on one person." The Griffith leader again refuted the stereotype could not win away from the Exies Oval, saying their two losses on the road against CAK and Wagga Tigers came against the benchmark of the competition, and would be tough trips for any team and that Kindra Park will hold no demons for them. But Orton revealed Griffith are a content group off the field and are happy with their recent additions to the side and their gradual march towards a finals place. "We knew it was going to take a couple of weeks to get things right after we brought in the new players into the side," he said. "But last week was out third together and it all just gelled and we're just a really happy side at the moment." Coolamon are equal on points with the Swans but above Griffith on the ladder on the percentage, with victory to the red and whites seeing them move up to fourth. (The Area News - Friday June 29, 2012).
SWANS UNDER 17S HOPE FOR REPEAT - By Scott Hazlewood
THE last time the Griffith Swans under 17s played in a Riverina Football League grand final, it was against the same opponent they will face on Sunday and there was a familiar name in the line-up. Current Griffith co-coach Matt Noonan wore black and yellow that day, but 13 years later, the former Tiger is hoping for the same result he faced that day, when the Swans pipped their rivals to claim the flag. Griffith will be out to seal the fairy-tale finish to the season after coming in fifth and being forced to play elimination games right up until its date with density at Narrandera. Noonan said slight tinkering with the side's training has seen it hit top-gear in the runs through the finals, which has seen the team take care of Turvey Park, Mangoplah-CUE and Leeton-Whitton. "About nine weeks ago we added a few extra things to their training, just to try and teach them a few extra things about the game and the style of footy we want to play and it's clicked for them and they have carried it out," Noonan said. "Our job at the start of the year for (co-coach) Norm (Campbell) and myself was not to coach them into a grand final, but more to mentor them teach to get to a stage when most of them are pushing for first grade spots very soon." However, Noonan warned his young side it needs to harness its raw nervous energy and start better on Sunday, adding it cannot expect to finish over the top of the Tigers. "Last time we played them we got on top of them in the first quarter, but we let them back into the game because of a 10 or 15 minute lapse in the second quarter and they got three or four quick goals," he said. "They're a team that if we don't react quickly to the sway in momentum their way, that's when we can get a bit hurt on the scoreboard. "But that's not to say that our boys aren't capable of putting three or four quick ones on them, they can, but as we said to them during the week, it's about limiting crucial mistakes around the ground." Griffith will look to make the most its big advantage on Sunday - speed. While the team is not the biggest across the park in the competition, it has plenty of fleet-footed players in all positions, with the Swans set to move the ball efficiently on a lead, giving them a chance to play-on quickly. Joel Gordon and Tom West are the only two major injury concerns, the side relying on their height in the middle of the field greatly. Noonan said the pair would be given as much time to prove their fitness, but was confident the pair would be right to take their place somewhere in the line-up. (The Area News - Friday September 21, 2012).