Clearance bid for Matt McDonald escalates

Matt McDonald in action for North Albury against Wangaratta last year.
Matt McDonald in action for North Albury against Wangaratta last year.

JINDERA will take North Albury recruit Matt McDonald’s contract dispute to appeal.

With the Hoppers knocking back three clearance applications, the Hume league club has taken the matter to a NSW AFL appeals board.

The case is likely to be heard early next week.

The onballer is contracted to the Ovens and Murray club but sought a release from the Hoppers after their financial plight was revealed and player payments delayed.

“We put years of education into Macca,” Hopper coach Jason Akermanis said yesterday.

“You can’t just let them walk out the door when they’re contracted players.

“We’ll enforce his contract.

“If he wants to play here, he’s most welcome to come back and face his punishment.

“We’ll let the tribunal decide and then move forward.”

Jindera has the opening round bye on Saturday and will be hoping McDonald is cleared to play Holbrook at Holbrook in round 2.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s former Hopper teammate Jason Gram will play a one-off game for Howlong against CDHBU in round 3 on April 12.

Gram will play with his former junior club Sale next week.

Howlong coach Joel Price said Gram’s signing was a big coup for the club.

“I built a fairly strong friendship with Jason when we were at North Albury last season and it’s fantastic for the club to be able to get somebody of that calibre and experience to come and play a game,” Price said.

“We have got a relatively young list and it will be a huge buzz for all the younger guys to play alongside Jason.

“He will train on the Thursday night before the game and will also hang around after the match.

“CDHBU looks like being a finals contender so having Jason will be a huge bonus.”

Howlong will face the ultimate challenge when it takes on reigning premier Brock-Burrum at Howlong on Saturday.

The Saints destroyed reigning Tallangatta and District league premier Barnawartha in a recent practice match with Dean Murphy and Luke Schilg dominating.

Murphy, Kylin Morey and Callum Oates look set to play forward in a move that could stretch the Spiders’ defence.

Price said it was important to start well.

“Early wins will be crucial with the competition looking so even this year,” he said.