Leeton’s premiership hopes have been rocked by the departure of representative halfback Stuart Dyer.
The Phantoms have been knocked out in the Southern Inland preliminary finals for the past two seasons and now have a large hole to fill as they look to continue their push up the ladder.
Dyer, who is regarded as the lynchpin of the team and was part of the Brumbies Provincial team last season, travelled from Wagga to Leeton to train and play for the Phantoms.
However he now has set on sights on playing in Canberra next season.
Leeton president Bart Challacombe said the club is already in the process of looking for a new halfback.
“He’s moved to Wagga with his partner, so we’ll be looking to replace him,” Challacombe said. “The wheels are in motion there.
“We’ve got a couple of replacements there for Stu, hopefully some of our second graders can step up.”
Dyer missed the preliminary final loss to Wagga City with a knee injury and captain Bill Bevan said his absence was a huge loss.
“Stu’s leadership is massive,” Bevan said. “He leads the forwards very well and controls the game.”
Dyer isn’t the only player the Phantoms are expected to be without with Brandon Emerson also on the move.
“I’m not sure if he’ll be back again,” said Challacombe.
“We’ve got a couple of people, maybe a halfback and maybe a forward to come in.”
The club are examining their rosters and contemplating replacement strategies from the lower grades to fill the vacancies.
Challacombe felt confident the lower grades would help provide suitable candidates.
“Exact positioning and people, we’ll sit down and work out,” said Challacombe.
“We’ll see how we go.”
The club are also in talks with Seru Rogo to bring him back as the club for the 2017 season.
Rogo is felt to have had a big impact on the team’s 2016 performance but commitments in Fiji are believed to have created doubt over his future.
Challacombe was one of many with the club who hope to be able to retain Rogo for the 2017 season.
“As a club we’re happy with what he’s been doing,” Challacombe said. “I think he’s keen to do the job.”
The Phantoms will be meeting with Rogo to discuss their offer to retain him.
“We’re getting together with him this week along with all the other coaches from last year,” Challacombe said.
“He’s a quality coach and we’d like to keep him.
“From all reports, he’s happy to do the job again, but we haven’t confirmed anything yet.”