JASON Gram has put the Ovens and Murray on notice, promising to bring an AFL standard to the league.
The boom North Albury signing, speaking at length for the first time since having his contract terminated by St Kilda, yesterday told The Border Mail he was refreshed and would do “everything he could” to play at his best this year.
He hasn’t given up on his AFL career but said a return to the top level was out of his control.
Gram, who played 154 AFL matches with St Kilda and Brisbane, said he wanted to enjoy football again.
He intends to play every game for the Hoppers this season and will stay on the Border until matchday after training on Thursday nights.
More than 30 teams showed an interest in the 2008 Michael Tuck medallist after the Saints delisted him for matters relating to his off-field behaviour.
He signed with the Hoppers on Friday.
“I’ll do everything I can to play the best footy I can,” Gram said.
“I believed I had a good three or four years of AFL footy left in me and, hopefully, I can still play at that AFL standard.”
And while he doesn’t plan on taking his foot off the pedal, football wise, Gram said he was looking forward to playing in the bush again.
Gram, who grew up at Sale, starred in the TAC Cup with Gippsland before being drafted by Brisbane in 2001.
“I love my country footy,” Gram said. “I always get back to watch Sale when I can.
“I want to enjoy my footy again — being a professional footballer for 11 years takes a lot out of you.
“If AFL came up — if teams still wanted to have a look — I’m open to that but all I can do for now is play the best footy I can for North Albury.”
Gram has also been working closely with former Geelong captain turned NFL ace Ben Graham about a possible punting career in the US.
“I definitely want to give that a crack,” Gram said.
Gram, who played in three grand finals with St Kilda, said he was looking forward to playing under former teammate, turned North Albury coach Jason Akermanis.
“You’re always going to get the truth from Aker,” Gram said.
“He rang me about three weeks ago to see what I was up to.
“I knew they were a wooden-spoon team last year but he explained how different it was this year.
“I came up for a look last Monday and I just liked the vibe of the place.
“They’ve got a fairly young team and, hopefully, I can help Aker out with the kids and share my experiences and what I’ve gone through.
“I can’t wait to get up there and meet all the locals.”