ZAC Fulford will start his coaching career at Tallangatta next year.
Fulford, 28, has gone bush again after returning to Wodonga this season from a second knee reconstruction.
He previously spent two years at Hume league club Holbrook.
The midfielder said he was excited by his new challenge.
“The list has plenty of talent and they’re a pretty young group,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can develop a bit more and get back up there.”
Fulford, who is the deputy principal at Wodonga’s St Monica’s Primary School, said work and injury had played a big part in his decision to return to district football.
“It was a bit of a battle this year,” he said.
“I was coming off a second knee reco and I couldn’t quite get back to the level required in the Ovens and Murray.”
Fulford replaces Scott Amery at the Hoppers’ helm while Tyson Smith will remain as Fulford’s assistant.
Tallangatta president Richard Fraser said the Hoppers were thrilled to land a playing coach.
“We really need that on-field presence out there,” Fraser said.
“It’s been a bit frustrating not to have that and, with a young side, we felt we needed that “do as I do” type on the ground.
“He’ll have respect on the field.
“We’re very happy.”
In an added boost for the club, the $1.2 million development at Rowen Park is expected to be finished in time for the start of next season.