Click or flick across for more shots of Prior during his time with North Albury.
REIGNING Doug Strang medallist Adam Prior has become the biggest casualty of the financial crisis engulfing North Albury by switching to rival Lavington.
Prior has agreed to join the Panthers on a two-year deal which includes being a joint assistant coach.
His defection is a crippling blow for the Hoppers who are also fighting to keep captain Daniel Leslie and assistant coach Matt McDonald.
Prior, 27, confirmed his move to his third O and M club at the weekend after previously playing for Wodonga Raiders.
He returned to North Albury last season from WAFL club East Perth and booted 74 goals.
“I could have easily stayed in Western Australia,” he said last night.
“But I decided to come back to North with the aim of finishing my career where I started and hopefully winning a flag.
“I thought we made some steps down that path when we made finals last year.”
“But events, which I had no knowledge of, have prompted me to consider a future elsewhere.
“Had there been a more stable environment at North I wouldn’t be contemplating this move.
“I am excited about the move to Lavington as they could have easily played off in a couple of grand finals in recent years.”
Prior, a three-time O and M leading goalkicker, attended the Hoppers’ annual meeting last week where a debt of $123,000, including $72,000 in unpaid player payments from last year, was confirmed.
He becomes the second top-line key forward to join the Panthers since they lost the preliminary final in heart-breaking fashion last season.
Former St Kilda player Justin Koschitzke has also signed with the Panthers.
In a further boost, the Panthers have retained another forward, Adam Flagg, after he considered quitting the club at the end of last season.
The Panthers have struggled for key forward options in recent seasons, but also have Tom Yensch, Justin Ellis and Nick Meredith in the mix for senior spots.
Prior said he could have joined Murray league club Barooga, but wanted to keep playing at the highest level he could.
Lavington coach James Saker revealed the Panthers had attempted to secure Prior 12 months ago when he decided to leave the WAFL.
“He ended up going to North in a move we fully understood,” Saker said.
“But from those discussions he knew where we were coming from and what we were all about. He has got a really good footy CV and a good indication of where he wants to go with his footy.”