NORTH Albury coach Gerard Midson yesterday agreed the Hoppers were in a rebuilding phase after fielding their youngest team in decades in Cricket Albury-Wodonga’s opening round.
After years of being a competition heavyweight, Midson said the provincial line-up was undergoing a “culture change” and had pinned its future heavily on youth.
Jesse Griffiths, James O‘Donnell, Craig Taylor, Paddy Murray and John Purtell debuted for North Albury against Tallangatta at the weekend in a team that had only three players over 23.
“With such a young side, you are always going to have highs and lows,” Midson said.
“It was disappointing to lose first-up to Tallangatta, but six or seven of our guys made starts and I don’t think we are that far off being a pretty reasonable side.
“Our aim is to develop some younger players this year and build ourselves up again.
“We have some good kids coming through.”
Midson said vice-captain David Farrell was likely to play next month while youngster Mitch Koschitzke would play the first half of the season at home club Brocklesby, due to his work commitments.
Hopper officials are hopeful Koschitzke will return to Bunton Park after Christmas.
North Albury is one of several CAW clubs to bank heavily on youth this season.
Lavington and New City are in a similar position after the off-season departure of key players.
“Brendan Simmons, Matt Kirkwood and Craig Taylor were probably the only players we had over 23 at the weekend. It’s been a while since that has happened at North,” Midson said.
“It’s a bit of a changing of the guard and you will always have some inconsistency when that happens.”
North Albury plays East Albury at Alexandra Park on Saturday before doing battle with Wodonga Raiders at Bunton Park on Sunday.