Boom Myrtleford midfielder Christian Burgess has joined VFL outfit Coburg, giving himself a two-year window to get drafted.
It’s a massive blow to the Saints’ hopes of continuing their surge in the O and M.
“It’s been the hardest thing because Myrtleford is really on the up,” he said.
“It’s a real Catch-22 situation because I would love to be a part of Myrtleford next year as I think we could go further, but I just wanted to test myself again at the higher level.”
The 22-year-old spent a year with VFL club Williamstown’s development side in 2013, returning to play a handful of games at home.
He’s spent the past three years travelling from Melbourne, racking up more than 30,000km.
But he was contacted by AFL outfit, Melbourne, and met with its recruitment committee, including Todd Viney.
He started a month’s training with development coach Daniel Cross, who, ironically, Burgess played against this year in the Albury matches.
“Melbourne asked me to go along to pre-season at Casey for two weeks,” Burgess said.
“They said the best way to get on a rookie list is at a VFL club.
“Melbourne’s feedback was that I had 12 to 24 months to give it a crack at being drafted.”
Casey is aligned to the Demons, but Burgess decided his best chance of impressing in the midfield was at a club not linked to an AFL outfit.
Melbourne's feedback was that I had 12 to 24 months to give it a crack at being drafted.Christian Burgess
The 174cm dynamo was only 68kg when he last played in the VFL system.
“I wasn’t big enough or strong enough to compete the first time,” he said.
While the decision threatens to rob the Saints of momentum after breaking a 10-year finals drought, the club has signed former Goulburn Valley star Tim Looby and livewire forward Josh Chapman.