North Albury is resigned to losing one of its most influential players in forward Josh Lloyd.
Lloyd injured his knee at training last week and given he's already torn an anterior cruciate ligament twice, he expects the worst.
"At first they thought it might have been a medial, but he's gone to his physio, who want him to have an MRI scan, so I can't confirm the extent of the injury at this stage," first-year coach Luke Norman said.
"I don't think the physio is too happy with the knee, so we're thinking the worst.
"Josh is in a reasonable mindset, he's already said to me if it's worst case scenario, he's going to get all the rehab and see where it takes him, so his attitude is fantastic, but in his mind, it's an ACL."
He's already said to me if it's worst case scenario, he's going to get all the rehab ... in his mind, it's an ACL.Luke Norman
At 30 years of age and with two reconstructions behind him, as well as his own refrigeration and air conditioning business, it would require tremendous willpower to fight back again, so the fact Lloyd is leaning that way is a credit to him.
And if it's a season-ending injury, it just continues the bad run for the Hoppers, who have been forced to watch as the two teams they battled last season for the bottom three produce outstanding off-seasons in recruiting.
Corowa-Rutherglen and Wodonga look certain to improve markedly, while North hasn't been able to match them off the field.
"We're in talks with a couple from South Australia but, other than that, we haven't had any luck," Norman offered.
"Having said that, we're pretty happy with the group we've got, we've got a very young side so there's a lot of opportunities for kids and the one thing you know you will always get with kids is 100 percent."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Hoppers had three wins in 2019, but have lost coach and star player Isaac Muller and Jacob Smith to Wodonga Raiders.
The club faces a brutal opening two weeks against the most improved outfits of last season in Myrtleford and Wangaratta Rovers.