NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis says he was surprised to see Wangaratta Rovers go on a “spending spree” over the summer.
Akermanis questioned the Hawks’ recruiting policy ahead of their round 1 clash at Bunton Park, saying his club had spoken to key Rovers’ recruits Jarrad Boumann, James Mulligan and Daniel Archer during the off-season but was turned off by their asking prices.
“We had some terrific battles with Rovers last year and it’s interesting to see they’ve gone down that track,” Akermanis said.
“We spoke to those guys, who were shopping themselves around and putting a price on their head and demanding sign-on fees and all that.
“I don’t care what you say, ex-AFL players are going to cost you and we know that because we spoke to them.
“They’ve got a new coach now and have obviously gone on a bit of a spending spree and tried to recruit a few.”
Plenty has changed since the clubs last met in the elimination final when the Hawks ended North Albury’s promising first season under Akermanis with a nine-point win over the Hoppers at Myrtleford.
North Albury has lost most of its big-name players since that day but Akermanis said it was for the best.
“I’m really excited about the year and all our supporters should be, too,” he said.
“We want to see as many people as possible at the game on Saturday.
“All I can say is come watch us play, because it will be an exciting brand of footy.”
North Albury is hoping for a big crowd on Saturday, with the club’s match at Bunton Park the only Ovens and Murray clash in Albury-Wodonga over the weekend.
The Hoppers have reason to be optimistic heading into Saturday’s contest after a solid pre-season.