More Saints go

November 23, 2016

Al Jacka has left Benalla to seek other opportunities.

Benalla has said goodbye to three more of its premiership stars.

A week after Morrison medallist Will Martiniello’s departure from the Saints was confirmed, electric forward Farran Priest, Wilf Cox medallist Josh Marchbank and gun utility Al Jacka are all gone.

Priest, who produced one of the great performances in last year’s preliminary final win, is swapping his black, white and red superman cape for an Echuca United one.

An interleague representative, Priest is returning to the Murray Football League Eagles to play with older brother Rowan.

The Priest brothers starred for Echuca United in its 2013 premiership win under Scott Beattie.

Benalla coach Luke Morgan said it was disappointing to lose quality players, but expected the Saints to still be strong next season.

‘‘Players leave and come and go, and while we thank them for their efforts and Benalla has respect for those players and what they’ve done, we’ve got to move on and we’ll still have a competitive list,’’ Morgan said.

Jacka is heading across town to play for Benalla All Blacks in the Ovens and King Football League.

He is not the only Saint heading to Friendlies Oval to team up with coach and fellow former Benalla player Harry Moran.

Chris O’Connor, Chris Lockhart, Nic Spencer, Sam Newton and Jack Doidge have also joined the All Blacks.

‘‘The club’s (All Blacks) looking for a new direction next season and we’d like to think we’re an up and coming club, so Al brings experience to the table and he’ll be able to mentor some of our younger players,’’ Moran said.

Growing commitments outside of football have also forced Marchbank to call it quits in the GVFL.

The towering ruckman, who was pivotal in Benalla’s run to last year’s flag, will line up for Northern Football League club Diamond Valley next season.

‘‘Al can’t commit to the requirements of GVFL footy through work and lifestyle,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘Josh has received a promotion in his work and it’s virtually made it impossible to travel back from Melbourne and play GVFL to the standard he and the club would like.’’

While Martiniello, Priest, Jacka and Marchbank are major losses, Benalla has managed to get Jayden Guppy and Jordan Wolff back to the club after a year away.

Morgan hoped to sign more players in the lead-up to next season as the Saints look to atone for a preliminary final defeat to Rochester this year.

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