WODONGA Raiders’ playing stocks have taken another hit with swingman Dean Heta signing with Ballarat league premiers Bacchus Marsh.
The 30-year-old will link up with former North Albury coach Travis Hodgson at the Cobras.
And in a further blow to the Raiders, Heta’s older brother Hayden could join him at Bacchus Marsh after relocating to Melbourne.
Heta, who underwent back surgery in the off-season, has travelled back to Birallee Park from Melbourne for the past two years and said it had taken its toll on his body.
Heta is a premiership player at Old Ivanhoe in the VAFA but he jumped at the chance to play country football with the Cobras.
“I did think about maybe coming back for another run but it’s too hard on the body and I’m not getting any younger,” he said.
“I’ve travelled back to the Raiders for two years now and the travel wasn’t ideal, especially with my back surgery.
“I thought I would play a bit closer to home and I didn’t really want to play metropolitan footy.
“There’s so many leagues in Melbourne, the crowds are different, the style of football is different. I love the country football and the feel of it.
“It was more about playing that style of football in front of a similar crowd to what you get at the Ovens and Murray.
“It was an easy decision to travel off to Bacchus Marsh. Clearly they did well this year, winning the flag.
“Hopefully they can do it again next year.”
Former North Albury livewire Jarrah Maksymow, who was sacked by Murray Magpies earlier this season, played a key role in the Cobras’ grand final win last weekend.
The versatile big man is hopeful his Ovens and Murray representative brother Hayden will join him at Bacchus Marsh.
“I’m hoping he does, I’m trying to get him across the line,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing with him for the last four years, so it would be a little bit different if we weren’t playing together.”
Heta’s departure comes after midfielder Todd Bryant signed with North Gippsland league club Woodside and District.