KEY forward Riley Corbett admits the decision to leave Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong was tough, but feels it's now or never to test himself at a higher level after signing with West Adelaide.
Corbett returned to the Lions last year after a stint with now-defunct club Canberra Demons in the NEAFL in 2019, and considered heading to the SANFL this year before opting for another flag tilt with his junior club.
The cancellation of the Riverina League season on finals eve, after the Lions had secured the minor premiership, made the 21-year-old's decision to leave difficult.
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But he feels being held to a higher standard in a semi-professional environment at the Bloods is exactly what he needs.
"With the NEAFL getting canned it cut the state league career short, but I thought I'd give it another crack before I came back here to settle down," he said.
"It was definitely a lot harder (to make the decision to leave) than the first time. To win the minor premiership this year and have a really good chance (before finals were cancelled), it was definitely tougher.
"I was looking at doing it last year but I thought I'd give it one more year to try and win a flag with Ganmain. It didn't happen, but that's how it works.
"You could say 'one more year' again but you never know how it's going to work out, and the next thing you know it's three years down."
The back end of the full forward's 2020 campaign was hampered by an ankle injury, while a calf issue struck him down this year.
"The last couple of years I've had some struggles with injuries and what not, and that's probably me not treating the body as well as I should," he said.
"Putting myself back in that environment where you're training four or five times a week and you have to do everything right to play (is what I need).
"When the NEAFL got called off I was probably in the best condition I've been for quite some time. When you do that off the field the results convert on the field, so I want to get back to where I was and who knows what could happen.
"It will be good to get back into that environment and really push the body."
Lucas Meline, Luke Redfern and Mitch Hardie are already part of the Bloods' set up, while Liam Delahunty has also signed on.
"It helps to know a few guys already," Corbett said.
"It's looking like easily the best comp after the AFL at the moment. It looks like the place to go, and it's only going to get better by the looks of it.
"There's no better spot to test myself."
Corbett is confident the Lions can compensate for his absence. Fellow key forward George Alexander was hampered all season by a serious ankle injury
"They were without myself and George for a lot of this year. No matter who is out there the other players seem to find a bit more," Corbett said.
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