TWO big fish are at the top of the shopping list for new North Albury coach Jason Akermanis as he tries to prize the Hoppers off the bottom of the Ovens and Murray league ladder.
Click or flick across the above image for full gallery of Jason Akermanis's first night of training (iPhone app users can tap the 'Photos' tab).
Akermanis, who had his first training session in charge of the Ovens and Murray wooden spooner last night, says he’s hoping to lure former Brisbane teammates Damian Cupido and Daniel Bradshaw to the club.
While he’s yet to have formal discussions with Cupido, who spent 2010 with the Hoppers, the 2001 Brownlow medallist said conversations with Bradshaw hadn’t progressed.
“He wasn’t sure if he was going to play,” Akermanis, 35, said last night.
“He’s 35 next year and if his heart’s not in it, it’s pretty hard to force him.
“I texted Bubba (Cupido), he’s killing them up in the Territory and he’s such a dynamic player.
“But Bubba does what Bubba wants.
“We’d love to have him but if he’s not interested then we are not going to pursue guys who don’t want to be here.”
Cupido is playing for Southern Districts, where he leads the Northern Territory Football League goals tally with 57, while Bradshaw is yet to indicate whether he will join brother Darren at Dederang-Mount Beauty after booting a ton for Howlong this year.
After meeting the players for the first time on Monday night, Akermanis put more than 50 through their paces in front of a sprinkling of fans and officials at Bunton Park last night.
He took training himself, set up cones and participated in kicking and handball drills for more than an hour.
The former Brisbane and Western Bulldogs star looked fit and excited to start his first coaching job, although he wasn’t impressed having to share the oval with the cricket club.
Many of the Hoppers’ big names trained, including skipper Dan Leslie, assistant coach Matt McDonald, Kade Brown and Kane Godde.
Those watching included president Paul Spencer, chairman of football operations Wayne Matsinos and club backer Allan Endresz.
Akermanis, who drove back to Melbourne after training due to work commitments in Brisbane today, said he would be at “most” sessions before Christmas and is still considering moving his family to the Border.
“I’m thinking I’ll be up here (a lot) because we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.
“I’ve got kids, I’ve got a wife (Megan) who’s got work.
“I’ll be here more than at home at some stage which is not good for family life but they’ll come up as well.
“My wife’s been wanting me to coach for a few years but I’ve been holding off and it worked out this time.”