STAR North Albury signing Jason Gram hasn't given up on a return to the AFL.
The 28-year-old committed to playing under former Brisbane Lions teammate Jason Akermanis at the Hoppers last week, in another coup for the Ovens and Murray league.
- READ MORE: Gram keeps options open
And while the attacking defender says he is looking forward to a fresh start after being sacked by St Kilda at the end of last season, he believes he still has something to offer at the elite level.
"I still believe I've got three or four years of good AFL football left, so I'm going to do everything I can still play to an AFL standard for North Albury this season," Gram said.
"If someone comes up to have a look and likes what they see then I'm not going to say no."
Despite having numerous offers from Metropolitan clubs, Gram said he was always keen to play country football.
"Being a country boy from Sale, I knew once AFL was over that country football was where I'd prefer to play," he said.
"I received a lot of offers over the past few months... and in the end cut it down to three."
After a two-day road trip that involved meeting clubs in Ballarat, Shepparton and Albury, Gram finally settled on the Hoppers.
"I had a look at their facilities and had a chat to Aker and was really impressed by the club," Gram said.
"It will be good to get out of Melbourne. I'll probably head up on a Thursday and come back on a Sunday or Saturday night.
"Hopefully I'll get to spend some time up there, meet the locals and enjoy a few beers with the boys after the game."
While Gram is committed to a full season at the Hoppers, he also has one eye on a career playing American football.
"I've always dreamt of giving the NFL a crack after finishing in the AFL. It's just a pity it came a bit sooner than expected," Gram said.
"I've had a few sessions with Ben Graham, and there is no better person to learn off."
"So I'll do what I can to learn the craft and hopefully one day make my way over there and give it a crack."
Gram played with Akermanis after being drafted to the Lions in 2001 and said he looked forward to sharing ideas and strategies with his new senior coach.