Akermanis new North Albury Hoppers coach

AFTER finishing last in the Ovens and Murray League in 2012, the North Albury Hoppers have turned to former AFL star Jason Akermanis to lead them to finals glory next season.

The human headline, who made guest appearances for clubs in three states this year, has been appointed captain-coach of the Hoppers for 2013, with the option of an extension in 2014.

Akermanis played under Robert Walls, John Northey and four-time AFL premiership winner Leigh Matthews during his time with Brisbane, and was also coached by Rodney Eade in his almost three seasons at the Bulldogs.

He said he would draw most heavily on lessons he learned from Matthews and Eade, and would also consider introducing sports psychologists and video analysis to the club.

"A lot of people pay lip service to psychology, but I've seen it work wonders with players, including myself," Akermanis said.

"Over a long time I saw how the Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs went about things and what made them successful. So you'd think that means I might know something about the game and what it takes to help a team achieve a bit of on-field success."

The 2001 Brownlow Medallist said he had been discussing the possibility of playing with North Albury next season, given the head office of the international software company he works for, Ezybonds, is based on Albury.

He had also been planning a move into the coaching ranks in 2014, but has fast-tracked that idea on the suggestion of Ezybonds owner Allan Endresz whose son plays for the Hoppers.

Akermanis is training for his pilot's licence and will fly from Melbourne for training and the games. He has spent his spare time in the past couple of years playing golf and driving go-karts - he plays off a golf handicap of two.



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