A bigger, better Joel

Former Johnny Warren Medallist Joel Griffiths, back in Australia to play in the AFC Champions League against Melbourne, believes his move to Chinese club Beijing Guoan has re-invigorated him as a footballer.

Former Johnny Warren Medallist Joel Griffiths, back in Australia to play in the AFC Champions League against Melbourne, believes his move to Chinese club Beijing Guoan has re-invigorated him as a footballer.

Griffiths made the move to Beijing last year, ending his association with the Newcastle Jets where he'd enjoyed a successful time, including a Hyundai A-League championship with the Jets in 2008.

Having enjoyed his time with his brother Adam in the Steel City, a whole new adventure awaited him with another brother Ryan in the Chinese capital.

While the austerity of Beijing and the flair of Griffiths hardly seemed a match made in heaven, the striker, known simply as Joel to the Yulinjun's fans, has made a considerable impression, scoring eight goals in his debut season and four goals already this year.

The 30-year-old is enjoying himself in China and said that has allowed him to play some of his best football.

"If I'm enjoying myself off the pitch, I feel like I play my best football. That's what happened when I was in Newcastle and it's the same in Beijing. My family's happy which is good and that's pretty much what has helped me. The transition has been a lot easier," he said.

Ryan, who has been playing in China since 2007, has been of great assistance as his bigger brother has struggled to adapt to life in the world's most populous nation.

"He's a been a big help. He's pretty much my second interpreter. He's speaks the lingo. He's taught me the mentality of the Chinese. It's a lot different to Australian mentality. I have adapted a lot quicker to the players, he's been a big help," he said of his brother Ryan.

The mentality of the Chinese that Griffiths speaks of is everything from lifestyle to diet. He said you could take coach Hong Yuanshuo as an example of how different things are from Australia.

"Everywhere you go in the world and you travel, people have different mentalities. How they live their lives. In China, they like to smoke. It's pretty much their pastime. Some of them are a little bit unhappy that you can't smoke in certain places in Australia, like the gaffer here. I don't know how many packets he has a day," he said.

"It's smoking or gambling and in China there are no casinos. So I think they are all at Crown Casino enjoying themselves."

While his team-mates are enjoying what Melbourne's night life has to offer heading into Wednesday's game. Griffiths is keen to continue his strong record against the Victory.

"It's just one of those things. I don't really think about it too much. You just go into the game and work hard. If the football drops to you, then hopefully you get a chance to put it away. That's pretty much what I've been telling myself before I go out and play. Work hard, get yourself into the game and hopefully get on the end of something. It seems to be working at the moment," he said.

"I'll just take it as if I was back in Beijing playing another game. That's how I'm going to take it. I'm not going to take too much pressure on my shoulders. I've got one thing, that's to work hard and get myself into the game and hopefully, I start to get a bit of rhythm," he said.

As for bigger honours and another call-up to the Qantas Socceroos, something that Griffiths has been outspoken on in the past, the striker is diplomatic.

"I try and avoid these questions as much as possible because as everyone knows, I get myself into hot water. I'm just doing my best for Beijing as they pay the bills. If I continue doing well, that's all I can do," he said.