Controversial former Brisbane Lion Jason Akermanis will play for Tuggeranong in the NEAFL this year. Photo: Angela Wylie
The Tuggeranong Hawks insist they are not concerned by Jason Akermanis' controversial past after confirming he is near certain to play the entire second half of the season with the NEAFL club.
The three-time AFL premiership star has been in negotiations with the Hawks for months to play in their home clash against GWS Giants reserves on June 23.
But Hawks general manager David Graham last night admitted to The Canberra Times it's basically ''a done deal'' that the 2001 Brownlow medallist will see out the rest of the campaign.
''The plan is we'll have Jason for the rest of the season,'' Graham said.
''We're still finalising a few things to make that happen, but that's what Jason wants and it's obviously what the club wants.
''I'd say it's a done deal, we just have to get the ink to dry and have a couple of things logistically to sort out.''
Akermanis' career has been filled with controversial incidents, the most recent last month when he labelled recently passed Melbourne legend Jim Stynes ''a nasty man in his day'' on a Sunshine Coast radio station. But Graham said that hadn't been an issue in negotiations, and wouldn't affect his pending deal with the club.
''As soon as he said it he was straight onto Twitter, he realised he used the incorrect wording conveyed his message incorrectly,'' Graham said.
''He was apologetic on his Twitter account almost immediately, he went on live radio with [media personality] Jules Lund, one of Jim's closest friends, and explained himself. We're prepared to accept it was a judgment issue, but as far as we're concerned we can't control what Jason says.
''We believe honestly it was not his intention to offend anybody, and we're prepared to accept his apology and move on.''
Graham said the club would not read the riot act to Akermanis about controlling his off-field behaviour.
''We won't be censuring Jason. Jason will always give people the answers he wants to give, that's what he's renowned for,'' Graham said.
''Obviously we hope there's not going to be any controversies, we've engaged him to play football and that's all we can comment on.''
Country Victorian side Yarrawonga has attracted crowds of up to 8000 since recruiting former Carlton superstar Brendan Fevola this year. Graham is confident Akermanis will also help Tuggeranong swell its crowds markedly.
''We expect a significant increase in gate revenue,'' Graham said. ''Jason and the ideas he has are fantastic, and we're confident he'll help the club financially.
''The reason we've gone with Jason is we wanted someone to help our players develop leadership qualities and on-field commitment.''
Tuggeranong coach Glenn Gorman said he was likely to use Akermanis in a variety of on-field roles.
Now 35, Akermanis played in the midfield during the Brisbane Lions' golden era, before playing as a small forward for Western Bulldogs in the twilight of his AFL career.
''It'd be nice to have him up forward and kick a few goals, but I'm sure I'll inject him into the middle at different times as well,'' Gorman said.
''He'll help set the example, running into spots the players can watch and learn from. Being out there with a guy of that calibre is going to give the boys, especially the younger crew, a great experience.''