Key Lavington defender James Saker will miss a month during the second half of the season.
The former Panthers’ coach will travel through Europe with his wife.
“The main reason we’re going is basically it’s the only time of the year we can both take time off work,” he said.
“It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, I’ve spoken to (coach) Simon (Curtis) about it and he understands, which is good.”
Saker became one of the league’s youngest coaches at just 22 in July, 2011.
Coaching in the O and M demands an enormous commitment, with the talented Saker forced to abandon high-level cricket since playing in Wodonga’s 2013-14 premiership.
It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a while, I’ve spoken to (coach) Simon (Curtis) about it.James Saker
The 29-year-old will miss four matches through July, where there’s a representative bye and a split round.
Saker is the second player in a week set to miss a month while overseas.
Wangaratta’s Mat Grossman will be away for the final month, returning for finals if the Pies qualify.
Most teams start training early November, so it becomes a 10½ month commitment if a team makes the grand final.
Saker is one of the league’s best defenders with an unrivalled ability to spoil opponents.
His best form came in 2013-2015, so he’s banking on regaining that touch after ditching the all-encompassing coaching role.
“I’m certainly enjoying training a lot more than perhaps I have,” he said.
“I’m hoping that I can play better footy than I did last year.”