Hoppers up the stakes

Former St Kilda livewire Ross Tungatalum has joined North Albury. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Former St Kilda livewire Ross Tungatalum has joined North Albury. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

FORMER St Kilda livewire Ross Tungatalum has joined North Albury.

Jason Akermanis and his Hoppers have struck as the clearance deadline approaches, with Tungatalum and Tiwi Bombers teammate Patrick Heenan set to spend the rest of the season at Bunton Park.

They could be unleashed as soon as Saturday, against Corowa-Rutherglen.

Tungatalum, who turns 24 tomorrow, is regarded as one of the Northern Territory league’s best players. He has won premierships, best and fairests and finished runner-up in the league medal.

It is understood the super-quick midfielder and Heenan have moved to the Border for lifestyle reasons and were keen to play under the 2001 Brownlow medallist.

Tungatalum spent 2009 on St Kilda’s rookie list but did not play a game.

The signings come as Akermanis declared close was no longer good enough for the Hoppers.

After being written off over the off-season, the league’s youngest line-up has been the surprise packet of the competition with two wins and narrow losses to Wangaratta Rovers, Wangaratta and Yarrawonga.

But the former Brisbane Lions champion said the time was right to turn honourable efforts into wins.

“We have been in every game — we are playing great footy,” Akermanis said yesterday.

“It will turn our way, but we have to stop this habit of being close and happy with it.

“It’s important to find a way to win — we need a scalp to better understand that.”

North Albury has defeated Wodonga Raiders and Wodonga in the opening seven rounds and lost thrillers to Wangaratta Rovers (13 points), Wangaratta (nine points) and Yarrawonga (14 points).

The Hoppers need to defeat Corowa-Rutherglen at John Foord Oval on Saturday to stay within striking distance of the top-five.

Their chances of bringing down the high-flying Roos will be boosted the return of young guns Isaac Muller, Mitch Mahady and Shaun Mannagh from the Murray Bushrangers, while Rory Feltwell has overcome a minor back problem.

Akermanis will continue with his policy of sitting out away matches.

Meanwhile, Myrtleford co-coach Leigh Corcoran will go before the Ovens and Murray’s independent tribunal tonight.

Corcoran was charged with striking Wodonga’s Jake Hicks during the third quarter of last weekend’s clash at John Flower Oval.