NORTH Albury champion Daniel Leslie doesn’t expect James Saker’s absence from Lavington’s defence to increase his chances of playing forward this afternoon.
Saker, in tremendous form down back this season, has a family wedding to attend and won’t play or coach the Panthers at Bunton Park.
It leaves the Panthers light on for tall defenders and opens up the possibility of North Albury trying to stretch Lavington for height.
With Strang Medal leader Adam Prior, and young target Josh Lloyd back in the side, North Albury coach Jason Akermanis could throw his captain forward, too, in a bid to catch the Panthers out.
But Leslie isn’t expecting that to be the case.
“I don’t know if it will change much, to be honest,” Leslie said.
“I expect to start down back because we’re a bit light on for experience down there and that’s why I’ve been playing there.
“But I’m not really sure what Aker will be thinking.”
The move of Leslie, the Ovens and Murray’s pre-eminent forward over the past decade, to defence this season has created plenty of discussion.
Leslie said he was personally enjoying the change.
“It’s been a good change,” he said.
“I played forward for a long time and been targeted so this has really freed me up.”
The North Albury captain said the Hoppers were keen to make amends after a surprise loss to Corowa-Rutherglen last week.
The Hoppers have lost four games on the trot and are horribly out of form leading into finals.
“We’re obviously pretty keen to get back to playing the way we were,” Leslie said.
“Our last four haven’t been near our best and we’ve played in patches.”
Leslie said the combination of both injuries and a lack of confidence had played their part in North Albury’s late season slide.
“A bit of both, I reckon,” he said.