Saints add class

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Updated: February 17, 2016
Zac Hopper, pictured in action for Lavington in the Ovens and Murray league, has joined St Mary's. Picture: BORDER MAIL
Zac Hopper, pictured in action for Lavington in the Ovens and Murray league, has joined St Mary's. Picture: BORDER MAIL

Zac Hopper, pictured in action for Lavington in the Ovens and Murray league, has joined St Mary’s. Picture: BORDER MAIL

ST Mary’s quest to put a horror 2015 behind it has been boosted by a trio of key signings.

The Saints have added Grovedale star Ryley Hall and talented Ovens and Murray youngster Zac Hopper, while also getting Jordy Duncan into green and blue after he was the centre of a clearance dispute with South Barwon that sidelined him in 2015.

Hall spent the last three years at Burdoo Reserve after arriving from Gippsland Power, which included being part of the Tigers maiden GFL grand final appearance in 2013, as well as making four VFL appearances for Geelong that same year.

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St Mary’s co-coach Bryce Vincent says Hall, who shares a house with Duncan and fellow Saint Mitch Etherton, can play a variety of roles.

“He’s pretty versatile – he can played tall or small – he’s strong, he’s got really good leadership qualities, and, probably more than anything else, he’s just a good fella to have around the place,” Vincent said.

“It was more a case of our boys coming to use and saying “you’ve got to talk to him, you’ve got to recruit him, we want him here”.

“We’re trying to create an environment where the boys do dictate which direction we go and he’s a big part of that.”

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Hopper, the brother of GWS Giants’ draftee Jacob, played just one reserves game with Lavington last year after being hit by a car while riding his bicycle in late 2014.

He suffered a punctured lung, broken rib and dislocated shoulder as well as a suffering a head injury which required clearance from a neurosurgeon before he could play again.

“He’s come down and trained and really enjoyed the place,” Vincent said.

“He actually came about a couple of ways. The football coach of St Patrick’s in Ballarat (Howard Clark), where Zac went to school, is very good friends with (St Mary’s supporter) Garry Fletcher.

“Garry gave us a call and put us in touch with him. As well, (former Colts coach) Sean Blood also knows Howard.

“He said he was coming to town and would like to come and have a look around.

“He just seemed like a great kid and he liked what we were about, being a young group and developing.”

Vincent says Duncan is looking forward to getting down to business after not kicking a ball in anger for 18 months.

“We’ll try him in a few different roles when the practice matches start,” Vincent said.

“He’s pretty versatile. He obviously kicked 30-40 goals for South in their (2013) premiership year, but he’s just as effective playing back as well.

“He might be one of those to plug a hole for us a little bit.”

Twitter: @tom_king79



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