JOEL Griffiths knows that he is not the long-term answer in the centre of defence for Newcastle Olympic.
A former A-League golden boot, Griffiths forged a career scoring goals not stopping them.
But with Reece Papas joining Lambton Jaffas in the off-season and Kyle Hodges sidelined with a knee injury, Griffiths is filling the void.
The 41-year-old, in his first year at the helm of Olympic, is playing in the middle of a back three sandwiched between Jacob Bailey and Cody Lucas.
"It's not ideal having me play centreback," Griffiths said. "I'd like to get another defender in if I can. Kyle has been out most of the pre-season which prompted me to do some training. I find it easier to see the play in front of me.
"Once the whistle blows then it's on. You forget how old you are, you just want to win. You want to rub off on the players as well."
Olympic were rarely troubled at the back in the 6-2 victory over Adamstown Rosebud, but Griffiths is ready for a far sterner test against arch rival Broadmeadow Magic at Magic Park on Thursday night.
"I love these challenges," he said. "It will be a much bigger test. They have a good coach, good players, have recruited well ... they tick all those boxes. We have to be on our game just to match them."
Magic opened their campaign with a 2-all draw with Lake Macquarie, in which both teams scored in injury time.
"Not taking away from Lakes - they were really good - but we were disappointed as a group," Magic coach Damian Zane said. "Our passing was really poor - our accuracy and ball speed. We trained well this week and I expect us to bounce back."
Zane was impressed with Olympic - at both ends of the pitch - against Rosebud,
"It's not always what a player does, it's what they bring," Zane said. "In the modern day game, a lot of the younger players don't talk a great deal. You could see Joel was organising them at the back. What you lose in speed with age, you gain in experience and organisation skills. Just the communication factor will be handy in guiding their young boys around.
"Up front, they looked pretty dangerous. Ryan Griffiths looked fantastic. I rate young Jared Muller pretty highly. They are a decent attacking team. It will be a tough game."
In other games, Lambton Jaffas host Edgeworth at Edden Oval on Good Friday at 2.30pm. On Saturday, Rosebud are at home to Azzurri (2.30pm), Weston welcome Valentine to Bear Park (4.30pm) and Lake Macquarie meet Maitland at Macquarle Field (4.30pm).