WAGGA Tigers coach Murray Stephenson is confident the side's back six can share the responsibility of stepping up in 2022 after Charlie Bance confirmed he won't return next season.
Bance, one of the side's best this year, is relocating to Queensland after his partner, Tigers netballer Abbey Corbett, accepted a job on the Sunshine Coast.
The creative half-back joins Riverina League fullback of the year Hamish Gilmore (Lavington) as defensive mainstays to depart.
After a stint in Melbourne, Bance played the last two years with the Tigers and his experience was a vital cog for a young side in Stephenson's first year as coach.
"It was hard to leave. I was planning on being there for a couple more years but hopefully I'll get back there one day, we'll see what happens," Bance said.
"It was disappointing the way the season finished off last year where we didn't get the chance to complete it (due to COVID), but this opportunity came up and I had to take it.
"The door is always open to come back, that's for sure. It's probably too early to make a call on that, we'll be up there for next year and after that we'll make a decision."
Bance is confident the Tigers, who began last year slowly before finishing fourth on the ladder, will still have the artillery to be a Riverina League contender.
"They've picked up Jesse Manton and our depth is pretty good. I think Muzz (Stephenson) will get them training pretty hard and they'll be a strong contender for next year again,"
"The more game time we get into those young fellas the more confident they'll get. They'll grasp the system Muzz is implementing and they'll start to click pretty well hopefully."
Stephenson is confident other players will help fill the void.
"He's a fair loss but we're hopeful of adding a couple more players on the way," he said.
"Someone will step up and take on some more responsibility, that's the way we have to look at it.
"The spread of that extra responsibility will probably be shared across that back six.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.