At 29, you would like to think he has a lot of pretty good footy left in him. It’s really exciting.Mark Hilton
WEST Adelaide captain Chris Schmidt will coach North Albury next season.
In a huge coup for the struggling Hoppers, the tough midfielder will travel from Sydney each week to co-coach with Clinton Gilson.
Schmidt, 29, retired from the SANFL at the end of this season following 131 matches, two best and fairests and the 2015 premiership with West Adelaide.
His signing came about through a mutual friend of North Albury football operations manager Mark Hilton.
“It’s really exciting for the club to get a high-profile name and hopefully we can take a step back towards where we want to be,” Hilton said.
“At 29, you would like to think he has a lot of pretty good footy left in him.
“He flew down here the other week and I spent the day with him, and I think he’ll be super for the development of our kids.”
Schmidt, who is set to play through the midfield and across half-back, was drafted by Brisbane from West Adelaide in 2006 and played two AFL games for the Lions the following year.
Delisted after the 2008 season, he was rookie-drafted by Adelaide the next year and made 18 appearances in his two seasons with the club.
He earned the Jack Oatey Medal for his best-on-ground performance in the 2015 grand final triumph over Woodville-West Torrens.
The Sydney engineer is expected to arrive on the Border each Thursday or Friday and take control of most of the match-day coaching.
“We think Chris will give the kids confidence and carry on from the really good work done by ‘Gilly’ (Gilson),” Hilton said.
“To get a player at that age with his leadership qualities after captaining in the SANFL is fantastic for our footy club.
“I think he’s going to be a really good fit for us.”
Schmidt will take over from Dan Leslie.