Albury's hopes of rising up the Southern Inland ladder have been dealt a big blow with Liam Krautz moving on.
Krautz was a sensation in his return for the Steamers last season as he went on to take out the Bill Castle Medal despite missing a chunk of football at the beginning of the year.
The loose forward didn't play in the first four rounds, but that didn't stop him before claiming a thrilling win to be named the competition's best player.
However the 29-year-old is looking to test himself further and will link Geraldine in the Canterbury competition this season.
The chance to play in New Zealand was an offer too good to refuse.
"I want to go see what it is like and how they play in New Zealand," Krautz said.
"They are viewed as one of the best rugby nations in the world so it will be good to see what the standard is, maybe stick around for a little while and bring back some of that skill back over to Australia."
Krautz was named man of the match in Albury's final round game of the season which was just enough to pip teammate Sam Allen by one vote for the prize.
The chance to defend his Bill Castle Medal crown was incentive to stay however the star forward expects he will be back on the Border soon.
"I would have liked to hang around and given it another crack next year as it gives you more credibility when you win it two years in a row but now I'll have to go win one over in New Zealand," he said.
"We will see how I go."
Krautz played a big role in helping Albury to premiership success in 2013 and 2015.
He was named best in the 2013 grand final victory but spent three seasons away from the club before returning in 2019.
Krautz's return coincided with Albury's return to finals however he is confident there is depth to replace him at the club.
"It gives an opportunity for someone else to stand up and do their part for the club," he said.
"It will be good to see and there is plenty of growth within the Steamers with their juniors there and they've got a couple of new imports they can build around.
"It is good to see where the club is heading as they are heading in the right direction."
Just last week new Albury coach Mat Coombes announced two international players Nicholas Waqanisau and Mathieu Peytavi for 2020.
The Southern Inland season gets under way on April 4 but first the Steamers are hosting a Super Rugby trial between ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels at Greenfield Park on January 23.