LAVINGTON has lured 2010 Rising Star winner Luke McNeil back to the Ovens and Murray.
McNeil, 20, returns to Lavington Oval after a year with Eltham in Melbourne’s Northern League.
The 2010 Richard Hamilton Medal winner, who was one of the Panthers’ best young players, will offset the loss of Craig Mabon, who moved to Kalgoorlie at the weekend.
Lavington coach James Saker said the club was rapt to have McNeil back.
“It’s good to add him into the mix,” Saker said.
“It’s a bit of a like for like with Craig going.
“Spending a year away has made Luke realise Lavington is his home and where he wants to be.”
McNeil, who is studying in Melbourne, will travel back to play each week.
He managed 18 senior matches in Division 1 of the strong NFL last season after struggling with a foot injury in his last season at Lavington.
The Panthers, who missed last year’s grand final by just one point, look set to contend again after a promising start to the off-season.
Justin Koschitzke, who played 200 matches for St Kilda, has added serious firepower to the Panthers’ forward line while McNeil should provide added depth and ball-winning ability in the midfield.
Lavington resumes training on January 16.