YARRAWONGA co-coach Chris Kennedy admits the Pigeons may be exposed by Albury and Lavington’s added firepower up forward this year.
The reigning premier’s backline has been decimated over summer and that problem only got worse this week when Jarrod Thompson decided he would stay at Bell Park.
The premiership defender had been weighing up the option of travelling from Geelong each weekend.
Nick Lawless (Pascoe Vale) and Marc Lonergan (North Heidelberg) have also left the club, while their best small defender, Matt Dwyer, will miss the season with a knee injury.
It comes as Lavington gets set to unleash Justin Koschitzke, Adam Prior and Adam Flagg on the competition, while Albury has added Setanta O’hAilpin to an already potent forward line.
“It’s probably been our strongest area over the past couple of years, our defence, but there’s no doubt it has been hit hard,” Kennedy said.
“We’ve lost three from our best back six last year and so there will definitely be a new look to it this year.
“I suppose that gives us a bit of the unknown.
“We’re well aware each side has at least two big forwards and in the past we’ve probably been able to stretch the opposition with our forward line, whereas now there might be a bit more to-and-fro.”
Things could yet get worse down back for Yarrawonga, with Connor Hargreaves moving to Melbourne.
The promising young key position player is expected to remain with the Pigeons, however, it is not guaranteed.
Marcus McMillan looks set to move to defence full-time this season because of the quality on the list of departures.
Playing coach Drew Barnes may also spend more time in the backline than initially expected. Kennedy did not rule out finding a recruit at the last minute.
It had been hoped 2012 premiership full back Matt Shannon would return to the club, but he is still overseas.
“We’ll look around, internally as well,” he said.
“We just want the right player.
“Damon Symes is a young player who can play both ends, Michael Handby went to Adelaide as a key back, so there are options there.
“We’ve probably just lost a little bit of flexibility.”