NORTH Albury coach Isaac Muller is adamant there is still life in the Hoppers despite the shock departures of Shaun Mannagh and Lachie Taylor-Nugent.
Only days after Taylor-Nugent announced he would be switching to arch enemy Albury, Mannagh told Muller on Tuesday he wanted to return to former club Lavington.
Muller informed the Hoppers’ playing group of Mannagh’s decision during training on Wednesday night.
“It’s something we half expected with Shaun being best mates with ‘Smooth’ (Taylor-Nugent) and ‘Smooth’ deciding to go,” Muller said.
“We half thought something like this might happen.
It’s very disappointing from a North Albury perspective. It definitely hurt.Isaac Muller
“Without being disrespectful, the boys thought Shaun was a loss but they didn’t think we saw much of him anyway.
“The way Shaun plays for us probably didn’t suit our game plan.
“It hasn’t hit us as hard as Lachie Taylor-Nugent that’s for sure.”
Mannagh played seven matches for North Albury last season when free of VFL commitments with Richmond and is likely to play a similar number for Lavington next year.
The VFL draw is yet to be released.
“It’s very disappointing from a North Albury perspective,” he said.
“I understand he wants to go back and play with his brothers Cody and Daniel and I can understand and respect part of it.
“It definitely hurt.”
Besides Mannagh and Taylor-Nugent, North Albury has lost Dan Leslie (Henty) and Chris Schmidt (South Australia) and ruckman Jesse Johnston wants to be released from his contract to join Thurgoona.
Muller has signed Mitch Thomas and Tristan Mann from Rand-Walbundrie-Walla and Albury and says he will announce two more recruits in coming weeks.