NORTH Albury coach Jason Akermanis says the Hoppers won’t get dragged into another clearance saga as former AFL livewires Austin Wonaeamirri and Ross Tungatalum look to re-ignite their careers at Bunton Park.
It came to light yesterday that former Melbourne goalsneak Wonaeamirri was also keen on playing for the Hoppers after former St Kilda rookie Tungatalum and Tiwi Bombers teammate Patrick Heenan lodged clearances to join the Ovens and Murray club on Tuesday.
The trio are contracted to NEAFL side NT Thunder but want to move to the Border for lifestyle reasons, with Heenan having family in Albury.
After a summer filled with debt and controversy, North Albury coach Jason Akermanis said his club was not in a position to be fighting for players.
“They’re under contract and as we know, these things are never easy,” Akermanis said.
“They are keen to come and we want them to come but we aren’t in a position to be paying settlements for them.
“We will have to wait and see.”
Wonaeamirri, 25, was recruited by Melbourne with pick No. 19 of the 2008 rookie draft, earning a rising star nomination in his first AFL season.
He kicked 37 goals in 31 games in a career restricted by injury before being delisted by the Demons at the end of the 2011 season.
It is understood Wonaeamirri and Tungatalum harbour some ambition of returning to the highest level.
“They’re still young enough,” Akermanis said.
“We can’t promise them anything but we are happy to help them on their way in their careers.
“They’re obviously going to get seen here playing in this competition.”
Akermanis said wingman Heenan was the most likely of the star trio to play in Saturday’s clash with Corowa- Rutherglen.
Tungatalum and Wonaeamirri look long shots.
Thunder chief Jarred Ilett said the club hadn’t received confirmation of the trio’s desire to switch to North Albury.