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Ryan Griffen (born 27 July 1986) is an Australian rules footballer who plays for the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League. His explosive run-and-carry and long kicking make him one of the most important members of the team.
Griffen was born in Goolwa, a South Australian port town at the mouth of the Murray River and began his football career with South Adelaide. The Western Bulldogs chose Griffen in the 2004 National AFL Draft at number 3 as a priority pick. He managed 17 games in his debut season, perhaps the best debut season for a Bulldogs players since Nathan Brown in 1997 and came second in the AFL Rising Star Medal count.
The 2006 Record describes Griffen as a "defender, both in a man-marking role and as a launching pad for attacking moves". Griffen has already displayed a good deal of the latter at the midway point of the 2006 season and most football critics anticipate that he will have a long career.
He is an explosive but inconsistent midfielder but has time to stamp himself as one of the elite players of the game.
He suffered a jarring knee injury in Round 11 2007, where he dislocated his kneecap in the win over the Brisbane Lions. The extent of the injury, in itself, was not season threatening although he did suffer complications from a twisted bowel, which hampered his recovery and ruled him out for the rest of the season.
In 2008, Griffen played 24 games spending more time in the midfield, averaging career highs in disposals, contested and uncontested possessions, inside 50s and clearances. He covered plenty of territory and ranked number one at the Bulldogs in inside 50s and rebound 50s combined. He also ranked third in the AFL for running bounces and equal fourth at the Bulldogs for score assists during the H&A rounds. The speedy midfielder broke open a number of games in 2008, earning maximum Brownlow votes in consecutive matches against St Kilda and Essendon in rounds three and four. Finished second in the AFL for bounces and top 10 in the Bulldogs’ best and fairest. The South Australian is at the stage of his career where he could become an elite-level player.
In 2009, Griffen played well at times, winning three Brownlow Medal votes on multiple occasions, but many believe he hadn't reached his full potential.
Although quiet by nature, Griffen was one of the players who spoke out regarding Jason Akermanis' controversial sacking midway through 2010 season. In the Round 14 match against Hawthorn, Griffen failed to make an effort to take a mark against Xavier Ellis 30 metres out late in the final quarter as the Hawks came from behind to win by 3 points, and he was widely criticized. Griffen made up for his mistake the following week when he was named among the Bulldogs' best in a 68-point thrashing of Carlton. On the eve of the finals, Griffen was shifted from his customary position on the wing into the midfield to replace injured teammate Adam Cooney. Although the Bulldogs were again bundled out in the Preliminary Final, Griffen was one of the stand-outs, averaging 28 possessions across the three games. At the end of the season he was proclaimed the winner of the 2010 Charlie Sutton Medal.
In 2011 Ryan Griffen maintained his excellent form from 2010 and came third in the Charlie Sutton Medal count behind Matthew Boyd and Bob Murphy.