North Wagga captain Ned Mortimer has made the shock decision to quit football this season.
An ongoing knee concern and a need to focus on his business are among the reasons for a big call from the Saints skipper and Farrer League representative backman.
"I wouldn't call it retirement. The landscape has just changed a bit," Mortimer said.
"My knee is just not coming good. It's probably sorer now than it was when I was playing. And with work picking up, I've got to concentrate on my own business."
Mortimer's knee troubled him during last year's finals series. Combined with other factors, including his partner moving out of Wagga, he said it all added up to an insurmountable obstacle.
"If my knee and the rest of my body was a bit more up to scratch, I could probably have made it work. But I just don't think I'd really be able to commit," he said.
"I think that's detrimental to the culture of the team, really. You're either all in, or you're not. It's not good for a team to have blokes that come in and out as they please, or what suits their life... you want a team where everyone commits to the cause and I think that's where you get your success."
The 29-year-old's attitude is admirable. But, after the best of his three seasons at McPherson Oval, there's no denying Mortimer's absence will be felt at North Wagga, who have also lost a best-and-fairest winner in Lachie Highfield as well as star forward Daniel Jordan.
Coming off a grand final loss to Marrar - the Saints' first appearance in a decider since 2004 - made the decision a tough one for Mortimer.
"It is (a hard call)," he said. "There's some bloody good characters there. It is tough because I think really, they're probably not that far away from getting to where they want to be. But I have to look at what suits for me... and it's probably best for me to have a breather."
Mortimer informed North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin last month who said the departing skipper has left his mark on the club.
"I'm stoked that the three years he's given North Wagga Football Club has helped me and the club immensely," Hamblin said.
"By himself, he's helped change the culture of the club as our captain the last two years. He hasn't put a foot wrong and the young guys have all looked up to him and learnt from him."
Hambin admitted their three departures are big ones but said he's happy with where the club is at heading into the start of pre-season next week.
"We've had some big losses obviously with DJ, Lachie and Ned. But there are some young blokes who haven't been given an opportunity in the last couple of years and they'll get an opportunity this year," he said.
"To only lose three players out of your finals series team is pretty good, and we'll pick up one or two."
The Saints have so far secured former junior Guy Ward on his return from Adelaide.
Mortimer said he'll remain around the club and follow their fortunes closely but the former rugby league player will also get around Southcity's Group Nine season.
"The reason I really like footy is for a bit of balance in life," Mortimer said.
"You're working all week, and a couple of nights a week you get to catch up with a few of the boys and have a sweat. That's probably the main thing I love about footy., catching up with mates. The actual playing can probably come second!
"So I'll still definitely be poking my head in down at North Wagga and at Southcity and do a bit of training. I'd like to stay in nick and if I can go down and have a training run every now and again, that'll be good."