2019 RFNL SEASON
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IN: James Fallon (Coleambally), Sam McGinn (West Aust.), Alex Overs (Congupna), Isaiah Potts (Yenda RL), Nathan Richards (Canberra Demons), Ben Tarr (Qld), Ashley Verhagen (Wynyard), Ben Watts (Hillston Swans).
OUT: John Evans (Barellan), Kieran Hume (Barellan), Riley Irvin (St George Dragons).
RICHARDS RETURNS TO HOMETOWN SIDE - By Liam Warren
AFTER two years out of the red and white, the Griffith Swans have revealed Nathan Richards will be back out on the park for the 2019 Riverina Football League season. The talented footballer has been working away at Greater Western Sydney academy before playing a season with the Canberra Demons in the North Eastern Australian Football League last season but decided now was the time to return to his boyhood club. "It's one of those things where it doesn't matter how long it has been or where you have played you always want to come back to your own club again," Richards said. "I have been away for two years now. There were just a few family reasons to come home."
The signing will bolster a strong roster who fell in the Riverina Football League decider against Collingullie-Glenfield Park after going through the season undefeated. Richards was on the sideline for the Swans' first grand final in over a decade and said it was tough just to be watching from the bench. "It was hard to watch, not saying the boys played badly, they did really well just couldn't quite go that extra step," he said. "I was devastated for them, and I had seen how hard they worked all year and how well they went. It has put a bit of fire in the belly for the start of preseason. "I'd just like to contribute to hopefully the boys going further next season. If I can have any part in that, I'd be satisfied."
The return of the talented ruckman has come at a good time for the Swans who may have been searching for a ruckman heading into the 2019 season with Riley Irvin potentially leaving town. "I think Riley Irvin was outstanding. I feel he had an unreal year," he said. "Unfortunately I think he is heading off to university. If I can fill his role and do half the job he did, I think we will go alright." Richards spoke fondly of his experiences over the last two years, and the dream of playing on the big stage will always be on his mind. "Over the last two years I have had an unbelievable experience, and I feel I have come out of that not only a better footballer but a better person as well," he said. "It is something that stays in the back of your mind, and whatever footy takes me now, I'd say I'd be satisfied with what I have done." (The Area News - Friday October 19, 2018).
IUDICA STAYS WITH SWANS - By Matt Malone
GRIFFITH'S chances to going one better in next year's Riverina League competition has been boosted by the re-signing of premier midfielder Jordan Iudica. The Swans went through this year's home and away season undefeated only to fall to Collingullie-Glenfield Park by two points in the grand final. Griffith feared the grand final may have been Iudica last game for the club after three years of travelling from Canberra but the classy midfielder has committed to another season at the Swans. Iudica won Griffith's best and fairest for the second time this year, and was named Riverina League's Player of the Year, as voted each week by coaches. He was a big part of the Swans' climb to their first grand final appearance in14 years and Griffith coach Will Griggs is stoked Iudica is staying. "The boys are pretty excited by that," Griggs said.
"That was the main priority. We were waiting to get him on board before we started chasing anyone else. "It was pretty important, especially when you've got someone like Nathan Richards coming in, that's going to make our midfield a bit more potent now. Riley (Irvin) did a great job but he was a better around the ground. We expect Nathan will be pretty dominant in the ruck and give (Jacob Olsson) a shake up." Richards is Griffith's only new signing as they go about trying to retain the majority of their squad from this season. They are set to lose young guns Sam Foley and Riley Irvin to university, while Heath Northey looks set to depart to Sydney due to employment. "We knew we were losing Riley and Sam since about halfway through the year," he said. "Losing Heath is a bit of a shame but that's life."
Griffith's main priority at the moment is re-signing midfielder Ben King, who juggled fly in, fly out work commitments this season. Griggs is looking forward to working with a number of the club's juniors next season. "They showed this year that if you back them a little bit, it can do wonders," he said. "There's a lot of good kids coming through our 15s and 17s." One teenager Griggs is looking forward to blooding is Blake Argus, who missed this year due to knee surgeries. (The Area News - Friday, November 23, 2018).
GEORGIA FULLER RETURNS - By Kenji Sato
GEORGIA Fuller began her netball as a Griffith Swans junior player, and now she has returned to the flock as the club's newly appointed senior head coach. The team ended last season on a high note, but Fuller is determined to take the club to even greater heights. She will have big shoes to fill when she takes the reins from outgoing head coach Bridgette Keely, who managed to take the team into the finals for the first time in years. "Bridgette did a great job building the club as a whole, so I would like to work with Swannies to keep improving and building it up," Fuller said. Fuller has strong credentials, having proved herself repeatedly on the court both as a player and as a coach. She played junior representative netball at both Griffith netball association and was a key part of the inaugural Barellan and District Rep 17s team.
She then donned league representative for both RFNL and Farrer, being judged best on court in the Farrer league in 2017 and went on to work as the coach of Narrandera in RFNL last season. Now she's back with the Swans she said she is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things with the young Griffith players, who will hit the courts for the 2019 preseason on Tuesday. "They're gutsy girls and they all get along well, which is important for having a strong team," Fuller said. All the grades will be getting together on Tuesday for a quick preseason hustle before going off to work on some basic drills, fitness and footwork technique. Ms Fuller said the team has solid fundamentals that she can work with, and that they have an especially strong attack side which they can take advantage of.
Griffith Swans netball co-president Sarah McCuskey said she is completely confident that Ms Fuller would take the club from strength to strength. "Griffith Swans look forward to her return, having earned respect across the district as both a player, and coach, with particular strength in junior development," McCluskey said. "Her passion and nurturing nature will see her further develop the Swans building success and club culture." (The Area News - January 30, 2019).
NORTHEY RE-SIGNS WITH THE SWANNIES - Matt Malone
GRIFFITH have received a massive boost just a week out from the start of the Riverina League season with the return of Heath Northey. The classy midfielder looked lost to the Swans after moving to Sydney but decided this week to re-sign with the club. Northey will travel from Sydney to line-up for a third season with the Swans, who hope to go one better and break Griffith's 16-year premiership drought. Griffith coach Will Griggs was excited by Northey's decision."It's a very handy get," Griggs said. "He was fantastic for us last year and it's very hard to come by a big-bodied midfielder like him so we're very excited by that. "He's a very classy player and especially with a question mark over Guy Orton and how much he'll be able to play, we need another experienced body." Orton, a two-time Jim Quinn Medallist, is awaiting results on a scan on his back and could be sidelined for the year.
Griffith will open their season with a trip to Crossroads Oval on Saturday week for a grand final rematch against Collingullie-Glenfield Park. The Swans have reappointed James Toscan as captained and elevated teenager Isaac Campbell to vice-captain after a breakout 2018 season. He won runner up best and fairest last year playing on the wing and has a lot of promise," Griggs said. The decision of Northey to return means the Swans have only lost two players from last year's campaign in Riley Irvin and Sam Foley. Ben King will be a late starter, while Orton's season is up in the air. ((The Area News - Friday April 5, 2019).
SWANS WOMEN'S TEAM SHOW SPIRIT - By Liam Warren
THE Griffith Swans women's team showed plenty of fight in their Southern NSW AFL grand final encounter with Charles Sturt University, but it wasn't quite enough as they fell to a 6.3 (39) to 1.5 (11) defeat at Exies Oval. The CSU side put pressure on the Swans early in the first quarter, but it took until six minutes into the first term for them to make an impact on scoreboard as they went in with a 1.0 (6) lead at the first change. The Swans had the momentum in the second quarter with Mel Bonetti, Lauren Marshall and Jenna Richards all having attempts on goal however were only able to come away with three behinds. CSU coach Clinton Black praised the effort of his defence as they stood up to the Swans charge. "I gave credit to the back six at halftime they really just held on," he said. "I think there was four points in a row and six minutes of going flat out and they held their own."
Weary of the pressure the Swans exerted heading into halftime, the CSU side used pep talk at halftime to their advantage to kick three unanswered goals to take a 30-point lead heading into the final term. Richards kicked the Swans first goal in the final term, but that was as close Swans got as CSU kicked a late goal to take a 28-point win.
Blake was pleased to see the changes made after their meeting with the Swans earlier in the season coming into effect. "We came over here three weeks ago and had a really tough game, and we went back to the drawing board and started from scratch and started with some new things,' he said. "They came out tonight and executed really well." Swans coach Trevor Richards praised the way his side didn't give up the fight. "CSU played really well tonight and were deserved winners," he said."We had a great season . It wasn't the results we were aftr, and we probably didn't play our best game tonight, but we had a crack, and I'm proud of every single one of them." It was a packed house at Exies Oval on Friday night, and Richards gave thanks to those who turned out to cheer the girls on. "The girls had a real crack, and they love it, so it was good to see them (the crowd) get behind us," he said. (The Area News - Monday April 8, 2019).
AT THE BAR with Speedy and Liam
With the Riverina Football League getting underway this weekend, Michael 'Speedy' Stratton and The Area News' sports journalist Liam Warren sit down to discuss the upcoming season in the latest edition of 'At The Bar.'
Liam: The RFL season is just a couple of sleeps away.
Speedy: I'm looking forward to it especially the performance of Griffith who came up just short last season in the grand final against Collingullie. They will be a better team for the experience last year and barring ant injuries it could be the year of the Swans. What do you think?
Liam: I think the Swans will go well. They have recruited pretty well, and the return of Nathan Richards will be a big boost for them to have another big body in the middle.
Speedy: He is a good young player, and he can be as good as his father Trevor, who was pretty handy, it will be a big boost to the Swans.
Liam: Well he was running around for the Giants for a couple of seasons in the junior ranks and played for the Canberra Demons last season and decided to pull the red and white back on which is excellent.
Speedy: Will Griggs knows what it's going to take this year and all those younger players coming through last year has got a feel of grand final footy, and they will be well prepared I'm sure. Now the hardest to beat they tell me Leeton is looking alright.
Liam: Leeton will probably put up a fair fight this season.
Speedy: What about Collingullie?
Liam: Well the Demons are always going to be there or thereabouts.
Speedy: I think they have lost one or two players.
Liam: Yeah one of the Klemke brothers headed to play in South Australia.
Speedy: Being in the position they are I'm sure they will be able to cover their losses. Now to Leeton, I hear they have changed their coach.
Liam: Daniel Muir has taken over from Jade Hodge, but Muir has been around the club for a few years, so I don't think there will be too many changes at this stage and I'd back them to make the finals.
Speedy: It would be good to have a derby in the decider. That would add some spice.
(The Area News - Wednesday April 10, 2019).
SWANS NOTES - By The Man on the Fence
IT is not really surprising that many are tipping us for the Riverina Football Netball League premiership this season. When one considers the heights, we reached last season in coming so close to major honours I suppose it is to be expected that we will be classed as favourites this time around.
But no one at Griffith is going to say we will win anything. That would not be fair to the other eight clubs in RFNL.
Of course, there is confidence in the camp. There is also a marvellous team spirit, a willingness on the part of each and every one of the players to give 100 per cent for their teammates.
Jordan Iudica decision to stay at the club, along with Ben King and Heath Northey, who have all signed up again, means the continuity hasn’t been interrupted and our aim is simply to repeat the form of last season.
But it is never easy. In many ways we were the Team of the Year for 2018 but never at any stage was it less than hard work to stay at the top.
The RFNL is as much a test of endurance as it is of footballing ability. Clubs have to play up to 19 games in all types of condition and there are so many additional factors like injuries, loss of form, etc., that have a part to play.
No team with serious title ambition can afford a really slack period. It takes a good start, a solid spell in the middle and a rousing finish when the other challengers are snapping at your heels come finals time.
But hopefully our players are tried and tested, and most have been through it all over. They are nearly all senior members now who have played at a very good level for a number of years. They know exactly what is required of them.
There were times during the close season when the club thought about dipping into the player market. There were players anyone would have fancied – but not at the asking price. And in any case would one have spent dollars to pay players of the quality of some of our reserves without being able to guarantee them a place in the team.
We cannot make promises or look into a crystal ball and say what the season holds in store. But we can tell you that everyone at Exies Sports Oval is determined to have something to celebrate with our fans.
Welcome back for what we hope will be another enjoyable season. Give all the players the reception they deserve and take it from there. Up the Swans! (April 10, 2019).
DUNCAN REACHES 300 GAMES MILESTONE - By Matt Malone
GRIFFITH champion Mick Duncan will become just the second Swans player to reach 300 senior games at Exies Oval on Saturday. Duncan will further entrench himself as one of Griffith's greats when he celebrates his 300-game milestone against Turvey Park. The 36-year-old is a-seven times best and fairest winner at the Swans and was named in Griffith's Team of the Century in 2014. Only the late Sid Robins played more games for Griffith. Duncan is glad that he always stayed loyal to the Swans. "When we had the 100 year centenary year a couple of years ago there were 1100 or 1200 people who had played footy for the footy club so that number 's probably up to 1250 now. So to be second to 300, obviously I'm proud it's happened," Duncan said. "It does make it worthwhile that I never did go back in the day, when I had opportunities to go and play elsewhere. "I never chose to play footy to play a certain amount of games, it's just worked out like that. Yes, it's a great achievement maybe but I've never really thought about it."
Duncan did most of his damage for Griffith through the midfield and as a small forward. These days, he finds himself across half-back. He said he still thoroughly enjoys playing, despite getting on in age. "Even now, I'm getting enjoyment out of the things like playing with a 15-year-old kid in round one," he said. "I played footy with Rowdy (Phil Rowston) and Rowdy's son. There is three or those that I have played with the old man, and now I'm playing with their son. It makes me feel old, but it's pretty enjoyable as well. "It's going to be hard to walk away."
Griffith's 2003 premiership is Duncan's career highlight, but he hopes to soon be able to add to that. He said the current environment at the club makes it easy to enjoy. "Without a doubt. We went through a time there where we didn't play finals for 10 years now when we're there or thereabouts, and winning games, it's a lot more enjoyable place to be," he said. "The club now right through from Auskick to seniors is a very professionally run organisation. We've got two junior teams, who then merge at under 17s and you get to training and there is 80 people there, between the three grades. It's definitely a lot more enjoyable. Griffith go into Saturday's contest as favourites after a 41-point win over reigning premier Collingullie-Glenfield Park in the opening round. Duncan would love nothing more than to celebrate the milestone with a win over the Bulldogs. (The Area News - Friday April 26, 2019).