NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis is confident of making further inroads up the Ovens and Murray ladder after kick-starting the Hoppers’ recruiting campaign yesterday.
After announcing the signing of promising Henty ruckman Isaac Muller, Jerilderie wingman Lachie Taylor-Nugent and Albury reserve-grade premiership player Simon Mitchelhill, Akermanis said he was confident of improving on fifth last season.
Akermanis identified “specialised recruiting” as the key to future success at Bunton Park.
“Isaac is a wonderfully big man,” Akermanis said.
“Lachie’s another guy who is quick and will play a role at half-forward and on the wing and of course we need to stock our defence (Mitchelhill) and help Dan (Leslie).
“With any luck we can move Dan forward.
“That’s been the big key focus for us because if we can get defence right we can hopefully move up the ladder and into the top three.”
Muller, 17, was targeted by several Ovens and Murray clubs with his arrival timely following the departure of veteran big-man Ben Ryan to Murray Magpies.
The young Swampie will share the ruck duties with Josh Lloyd who is set to play a full season following a knee reconstruction.
Taylor-Nugent, 21, played in defence in Jerilderie’s premiership side this year while, Mitchelhill, 24, was a member of Albury’s reserve-grade team that defeated Lavington in the grand final.
Akermanis said North Albury was in a far better position than it was 12 months ago despite the loss of Ryan, Kade Brown, Josh Senior, Chris Taylor and Nick Sheridan to district league clubs.
“I would hope so,” Akermanis said.
“The program has definitely worked.
“We will tweak our program and game plan and bring in specialised talent.
“That’s what we needed.”
Akermanis was reluctant to reveal the identity of his future recruiting targets, he said the Hoppers needed to beef up their back-line.
“We probably need another big defender,” he said.
“I can get them and I have them, but it’s not quite suiting exactly what I want at the moment.”