THE Griffith Swans have landed a major coup, solving their ruck issues with the signing of highly-credentialed big man Michael Griffiths.
In a deal that has been many months in the making, the 206cm giant will lead the ruck division for the Swans this season as the club seeks a return to the Riverina Football League finals in their centenary year.
Griffiths, 30, brings a wealth of experience after stints in the SANFL with Glenelg and in the WAFL with East Fremantle, while he was also once a target of AFL clubs and trained with Collingwood at the end of 2007.
An excellent tap ruckman, Griffiths should help provide first use of the football to the likes of Swans captain Guy Orton and best and fairest winner Mick Duncan, and will only strengthen what is already one of the RFL's best midfields.
Griffiths arrived in town on Monday, trained with his new teammates for the first time on Tuesday night and will feature in the club's first practice match of the pre-season next weekend against Hume League outfit Rand-Walbundrie.
"The boys trained pretty hard. I didn't know what to expect, to be honest, but I was surprised," he told The Area News.
"It wasn't bad. I still don't really know what to expect, but I'm just looking forward to getting amongst it.
"With a town like this I guess there'll be a bit more expected of me but I just play footy.
"I've just got to look after my body and do all that sort of thing so I can get on the footy field, but nine times out of 10 I'm pretty good.
"I'll be out there to have fun and enjoy it and if you're doing that, the rest will take care of itself."
Griffiths has been in talks with the Swans since around the middle of last year, and even visited took in a game at Exies Oval as club officials tried to woo him from South Australia, where he was playing with Angaston in the Barossa Light & Gawler Football Association.
The ruckman has a young family of three who will remain in Adelaide until the end of the year, and said it was a "hard decision" to move across to Griffith without them.
President Jeff Harris said: "There's been a few considerations with him in terms of family so it was a patient approach from us, but that was the way it needed to be done."
"We want him to be here as a long-term option so if it takes a bit longer to make that happen, we're happy with that.
"We identified a shortage of talls - there's nothing new about that in country footy, they're hard to come by.
"It was one of the positions that was pretty critical to the club's success and it's good to get him across the line."
Griffiths gives Swans coach Brandon Mathews the luxury of keeping the likes of James Toscan and Trevor Richards up forward for longer, while also taking pressure off the club's developing key position players.
"I know they're pretty serious about their footy out here," Griffiths said.