Aker gives Hoppers new lease on life

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NORTH Albury star Matt McDonald says the club is loving life under new coach Jason Akermanis.

Despite mixed reaction to the Hoppers’ appointment of the controversial former AFL superstar as Bob Craig’s successor in October, North Albury has been one of the Ovens and Murray’s off-season pacesetters.

In a major boost to the Hoppers’ chances of returning to finals action, last year’s wooden-spooner has landed talented Finley brothers Reid and Kial Crowe, as well as well credentialed district midfielder Ash Sibraa.

The additions follow the acquisition of former Griffith forward Jethro Calma-Holt.

McDonald, who will help Akermanis juggle his coaching commitments, said the outspoken Brownlow medallist had been a hit since taking the reins at Bunton Park.

“He’s been great,” he said

“Everyone’s on the same page and he’s been a great teacher.

“I think he’s only missed the two sessions because of work.

“He seems to be really enjoying it.

“Training has been simple but effective and everyone seems to be enjoying it which is probably the main thing at this time of the year.”

Last season’s best and fairest winner said the Hoppers were determined to gain further momentum as the season approached.

“Obviously we’ve picked up a few and we’re still chatting to a few more, ”McDonald said.

“It is all pretty promising — the numbers at training have been great.

“We’ve had 50 odd most nights and feel like we’ve added a bit of depth.”

But the star midfielder, entering his sixth season with the Hoppers, said the club wasn’t getting ahead of itself after a disappointing season.

“You still don’t really know what other clubs have done at this time of year and, after last year, we can’t afford to really think about anyone other than ourselves,” he said.

“We are happy with where we are at but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

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