Echuca's senior football side has suffered a major blow on the eve of the Goulburn Valley League season, with key defender Peter Faulks departing the club.
The 31-year-old has moved to Essendon District side Aberfeldie as he pursues career opportunities in Melbourne.
Faulks played 22 games in two seasons with the Murray Bombers, filling an important role in a strong Echuca back six.
Echuca co-coach Simon Maddox said the club would not stand in the way of Faulks’ departure.
“It's disappointing to lose a player of that quality,” he said.
“But there was an opportunity for Peter in terms of work in Melbourne. We've always been of the attitude that we won't stand in the way of players when there are other factors at play.
“Peter has the opportunity to set himself and his family up well with his new job, so while we are disappointed to see him go, we understand the reasons for him leaving.”
Maddox said recent seasons had prepared the club well for major changes on the eve of the season, and believed his playing group was well prepared to cover for any number of losses throughout the season.
“We lost Ruory (Kirkby) a few years ago to injury, and Simon (Buckley) on the eve of the past season as well,” he said.
“You come to understand you have to move on quickly. It also provides an opportunity for a new player to come into the team and play a role.
“We have more local boys on VFL lists than pretty much any club, so we are always preparing our players to step up and play new roles. We are really confident in the depth we have around Echuca.”
Aberfeldie will be looking to go one step better this season, after suffering an eight-point defeat at the hands of Keilor in last year's EDFL premier division grand final.
Faulks will be one of several key inclusions to a side that has also welcomed former Sydney rookie Toby Pink and ruckman Nick Meese, who retired from VFL football with Williamstown at the end of last season.
Echuca begins its GVL campaign on April 4 against Benalla.