Temora’s hopes of getting off the bottom of Group Nine have been dealt a big blow with star forward Hayden Philp leaving the club.
Philp, who has finished third in the past two Weissel Medal counts, has signed with Group 20 club Leeton for 2019.
The 21-year-old has been a shining light in a disappointing few seasons for the Dragons, where he has been named best and fairest winner for the past two years.
However a desire to play somewhere other than his home town has fuelled the move.
“I’ve just got to do something different,” Philp said.
“Get out of Temora, whether it is for a year or for however long is yet to be decided.”
Temora captain-coach Sam Elwin admitted it was a massive blow for the club.
“It’s a big loss and it shocked me more that he was going out to somewhere like Leeton instead of actually bettering his footy and going to Canberra or Sydney but it’s his decision and he wants to start fresh,” Elwin said.
“He wants to travel around and I’ve done it and had the time of my life and met new people and I’m sure he will do the same.
“We wish him the best.”
Philp said it was a hard call to leave the Dragons but is more than happy to join the Greens.
“I wanted to stay in Group Nine but didn’t want to play against the club and I have a couple of good mates at Leeton,” he said. “Warren Weir is coaching and he seems like a really good fella so it should be good.”
He plans to travel from Temora to play and will be a massive boost to a club who missed out on playing finals in 2018.
Temora had already secured two fresh faces with the prospect of more to help share Philp’s workload.
However his departure takes plenty of gloss off the moves they’ve already made this off-season.
“He’s had to do a lot of the workload in the last year, which I’m very grateful for and it’s a reason while I’m not real angry about it,” Elwin said.
“He showed a lot of loyalty last year and helped me out when other people would have walked away and left.
“It’s a shame he couldn’t stick by this year as he’s going to get a lot of help in the front row if we get these two players who are looking promising and it’s just a real shame to lose someone like Hayden.
“Especially off the field as well as he does a lot that people don’t see whether it is down helping schoolboys or selling raffle tickets.”