Liam Griffiths the NEAFL Rising Star Nominee for Round 8
Article reproduced from the NEAFL Website 3/6/2015
Young Ainslie midfielder Liam Griffiths believes there is no better place for him to be right now than surrounded by his club week-in, week-out.
A Tricolours player since the under-12s, Griffiths rocketed up the junior ranks with distinction to one of the best young talents in Australia, being selected for his first AIS-AFL Academy squad as a 16-year-old in 2012.
A member of the GWS Giants Academy for the past few seasons, Griffiths made his senior NEAFL debut as a top-up player for the Giants in 2013 before pulling on the Ainslie guernsey for the first time at senior level last season.
Last year also saw Griffiths tour Europe with the AIS squad, spend a week training with the GWS senior squad, and played in the Giants’ Preliminary Final loss to Aspley in Sydney.
He was touted as a potential draft prospect but when his AFL dreams weren’t realised, Griffiths was shattered.
But the 19-year-old has bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the draft, playing in six NEAFL matches so far this season and producing his best performance of the season to date against Eastlake on Saturday.
Griffiths finished with 14 disposals, six inside 50s and a goal, polling eight NEAFL MVP votes and capping it off with this week’s NEAFL Rising Star nomination.
He says the opportunity to play a consistent role for his club had benefited his own performances.
“At first it was gut-wrenching when I found out I didn’t get drafted, but at the same time I knew why,” Griffiths said.
“Although I was a chance to an extent, realistically I didn’t play well enough and I knew that. If I were to get drafted last year, I would have been very lucky. For me, it’s motivated me more getting that setback, because it’s made me realise how much I actually want to play at the highest level."
“Last year, each week was different in regards to playing with a different team. One day you are an 18-year-old playing with people your own age and then the next I’d play with the Giants alongside AFL players, which can be a bit intimidating."
“But now each week I go in with the same mindset because I know where I sit with the team. A lot of the pressure in the past I have probably put on myself, but now I go in with a clear mind and I feel it’s definitely benefited my footy. As the year progresses, I’d like to hope I get better.”
Ainslie’s 74-point win over local Canberra rivals Eastlake has the club sitting comfortably inside the top six going into this week’s representative bye.
Griffiths said the Tricolours are a bit of a dark horse in the competition and hopes individually, and as a team, they can rise to greater heights.
“I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m still developing, and I think playing with Ainslie is a good decision,” he said.
“I’m really enjoying my footy but at the same time there are a lot of people around me who really want to help me. Whether I get to where I want to be or not, at least I know I have given it my best shot.
“I feel like with the people surrounding me, they will help me regardless of where I want to be. But right now it’s about playing with Ainslie and trying to achieve team success."
“I think there is obviously a lot of areas we need to work on but we’re a pretty different team to last year and still getting to know each other, but as the year progresses I believe we will get better."
“Consistency is the main aim, for our team and myself individually. If we can play at our best, we can compete with anybody.”
The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition. Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 NEAFL games.
Liam Griffiths in action against Eastlake in Round 8