After spending most of last years finals campaign watching from the substitutes bench, Rostyn Griffiths is putting in the hard yards in pre-season to ensure he can play a bigger role this season.
Griffiths made 22 A-League appearances in what was his second season at the Club but was only on the pitch for the final minutes of both the semi-final win against Western United and the Grand Final loss to Sydney FC.
“It was definitely frustrating watching those games from the bench,” he said, “There were various reasons for that but I've decided that I really want to be playing in the big games this season."
In order to do this, Griffiths has been burning up the training track in pre-season to put himself in the best position to feature prominently in A-League Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo’s plans.
"Going into this season my biggest goal has been to get myself into the best shape I possibly could and I think I'm on course to do that,” Griffiths said.
“I really just want to try and get as many games as possible.”
This has been far from an easy process as Kisnorbo and the rest of the coaching staff have been pushing the squad to their limits so far in pre-season training.
“Physically it's probably been as hard a pre-season I've done, it’s been very demanding,” Griffiths said.
“I think that's probably due to the amount of games that we are going to have in a shorter period of time over the season.”
While he has been deployed as a defensive midfielder for virtually his whole career, when injuries struck down central defenders Richard Windbichler and his injury replacement Celtic loanee Jack Hendry, Griffiths was thrust into the heart of defence.
Although he hadn’t spent a great deal of time playing previously as a centre-back, his defensive minded instincts and 6’2” body frame held him in good stead to play the role effectively. Griffiths said he sees himself again splitting his time between the two positions this season.
“The way the team plays I'd say centre back suits me better and I probably enjoy it a little more than I do playing as a defensive midfielder,” he said, “There's a lot of games this season so if I'm needed in midfield or wherever else, I'm happy to do what's best for the team."
Griffiths will have a big role to play on the pitch as City look to take the next step and go one better than last season, but as one of most experienced players in the dressing room, his role off the pitch is just as big.
“It’s an important role especially this year because we do have a lot of younger players,” he said, “It's about bringing those guys up to the level as quick as possible and also doing same for the new players at the Club.”
“We have to help them learn the system that a lot of us have already learnt last year because it's not easy to get used to.”
The 2020/21 season will be Griffiths’ third at City, making it the longest period he’s spent at a club in his senior career. The 32-year-old has previously tasted A-League success as part of the Central Coast Mariners premiership team back in 2011/12 season and is eager to do the same with City.
"This Club is a place that demands high achievement and we got pretty close last year,” Griffiths said, “Hopefully this will be the last club I play at so it would be nice to retire winning at the team where I've spent the longest stint in my career.”
“The contract I've got here should take me through to at least 4 or 5 years of service so it would be nice to finish with some sort of silverware."
The 2020/21 A-League season kicks off on December 27! Stay tuned to melbournecityfc.com.au for all the fixture details in the coming weeks!