DEAL OR NO DEAL: Aker says key Hopper players won't be released

NORTH Albury coach ­Jason Akermanis has declared Adam Prior and Matt McDonald are ­Hopper players and won’t be released unless their contracts are paid out.

Akermanis said yesterday the Ovens and Murray club couldn’t afford to lose two of its premier players and vowed to play hard ball with Prior and McDonald seeking clearances to Lavington and Jindera respectively.

Prior has already had one application blocked.

“Let’s get this straight, Adsie (Prior) and Macca (McDonald) are required players,” Akermanis said.

“We won’t be giving them away.

“That’s not going to happen.

“Without letting the cat out of the bag, it’s a full deal and not a negotiation.”

Prior was involved in a clearance wrangle with East Perth last year and only joined North Albury after a transfer fee was paid to the WAFL club.

McDonald joined the ­Hoppers from Riverina league club Griffith in 2008 and has been one of their most consistent performers, ­winning two best and fairests and being an assistant coach for the past five seasons.

Akermanis said he didn’t expect any other Hopper players to attempt to break their contracts after the club’s financial plight was recently revealed.

Skipper Daniel Leslie recently knocked back an offer from Benalla and looks set to stay at Bunton Park.

“There is no compensation at all when players leave when they are out of contract so when players are contracted, we will be enforcing our rights,” Akermanis said.

“The club is bigger than the individual.

“We are sick and tired of clubs ringing players whenever they want.”

Although North Albury stands to lose the bulk of last year’s line-up which played Wangaratta Rovers in the elimination final, the Brisbane Lions triple premiership star said morale had remained strong at Bunton Park.

“The morale has been pretty bloody good,” he said.

“A lot of the guys who were getting better but weren’t quite in the senior team are in the mix and are going to get games.

“I have seen the training standard change as well.”

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