Handy addition for Swans on eve of Coolamon clash

Australian football

OLD HAND: Former SANFL star Michael Handby, pictured here playing for Yarrawonga earlier this year, will pull on Swans colours for Sunday's trip to face RFL premier Coolamon. Picture: The Border Mail

OLD HAND: Former SANFL star Michael Handby, pictured here playing for Yarrawonga earlier this year, will pull on Swans colours for Sunday's trip to face RFL premier Coolamon. Picture: The Border Mail

THE Griffith Swans have received a timely shot in the arm ahead of Sunday's daunting trip to face RFL premier Coolamon on Sunday with the signing of experienced utility Michael Handby.

Handby, 30, plays for Yarrawonga in the Ovens & Murray League and is the current midfield coach of SANFL club North Adelaide.

He was drafted by the Adelaide Crows with pick 38 in the 1999 AFL Draft but went on to forge a successful career in South Australia, playing over 200 SANFL games for Glenelg, North Adelaide and South Adelaide.

A former teammate of Swans ruckman Michael Griffiths at Glenelg, Handby's coaching commitments mean he is unable to play for Yarrawonga this weekend, freeing him up for Sunday's clash with the Hoppers.

Coach Brandon Mathews said Handby will make sporadic appearances for Griffith this year when circumstances allow for it.

"Hopefully it might lead to something down the track," he said.

"He's played a lot of high-level footy so it'll be a real learning experience for our young guys, to play alongside someone like him.

"Not only is he an unbelievable footballer to be playing in this competition but he brings other things as well.

"The knowledge of the game he's got and having a coaching role over there in Adelaide, he's going to be able to help a lot of us out."

Handby's recruitment comes on the back of another important signing this week, three-time O&M representative Josh Hamilton, who joined Griffith this week.

The 24-year-old is a towering key position player and is set to play six to eight games for the Swans this season, commuting from his current base in Chinchilla, Queensland.

Hamilton comes to the Swans through his association with Mathews but played only two reserve-grade games for Lavington last year owing to work reasons.

"The beauty of Josh is he can play in the ruck or anywhere he's going to be the most value to us," Mathews said.

"He could play centre-half forward without a worry in the world. He loves contested footy, he loves a contest.

"We certainly wouldn't use him deep in the backline - we want to keep him in the play because he's got really good skills, he's smart, athletic."

But Mathews has warned the Swans that the arrival of Handby and Hamilton will be no silver bullet.

Griffith turned in a "deplorable" performance at the weekend, losing by 43 points to the Wagga Tigers to leave the club 1-2 after three rounds.

"They're going to help but those boys aren't going to win or lose us a game of footy," Mathews said.

"After last weekend they shouldn't even be thinking about that - they should be trying to redeem themselves."

Meanwhile, injury clouds are hovering over four of Griffith's best midfield options.

Che Jenkins (ankle) and Dean Crack (knee) will certainly miss Sunday's away trip while co-captain James Fallon (hamstring) and Mick Duncan (quad) are 50-50 propositions.

"We're not going to play them if they're not right," Mathews said.

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