North Albury has been handed a bonus with a former AFL player walking into the club.
Former Carlton small defender Clem Smith signed with the Hoppers on Friday morning.
“It’s definitely a bonus before the start of the year,” co-coach Clint Gilson said.
“He trained last Wednesday (January 31) and has now done three sessions.”
Smith’s girlfriend Jorji Burke had already linked with North netball.
“I’m getting back into it (footy) seriously and want to better myself and it’s a good club as well,” he said.
I’m getting back into it (footy) seriously and want to better myself.Clem Smith
Smith played seven games with Carlton in 2015, but was delisted at the end of the next season.
“There were different coaches and a lot happening at the club,” he said of his two-year stint.
Smith, who turned 22 last Saturday, says he would like to return to the elite level, but is focused totally on the Hoppers.
“I want to get back to my game that I play,” he said.
“A lot of run and carry, get the ball into my hands and create some options.”
North is now the clear standout in the recruiting stakes, picking up the league’s only former AFL players in Smith and co-coach Chris Schmidt.
The club has also signed former VFL ruckman Isaac Muller.
“Obviously ‘Schmidty’ and I are appreciative of the work that Brenden (Maclean) and Mark Hilton have done to give us a really good list,” Gilson said.
The Hoppers’ mentor says it’s far too early to pinpoint where Smith will play.
“Anyone that’s played AFL, to come back to Ovens and Murray, is going to be pretty handy,” Gilson said.
The Hoppers missed finals last year, claiming just three wins.
If North is to play finals, it faces a likely fringe top five rival in Myrtleford in Easter’s opening round.