James Saker has parted company with Lavington after seven seasons.
The former Panther coach will move to Melbourne through employment in coming weeks and plans to play in a suburban competition.
Saker spent six years at the helm before handing over the reins to Simon Curtis last year.
“An opportunity has come up in Melbourne and the travel was going to be difficult,” Saker said.
“It’s hard because I’ve absolutely loved my time at Lavington.
“It pretty much came about through a casual phone call, and to be honest, it’s probably the best move I’ve ever made.
“The committee and the club have been fantastic over the years. I’m definitely going to miss the place.”
Saker guided Lavington into grand finals against Albury in 2015 and 2016, with the Panthers losing by 29 and 40 points, respectively.
He also led the club into preliminary finals in 2013 and 2014 and first semi-finals in 2012 and 2017.
Although Saker came up short in taking Lavington to the ultimate success, the full-back said he learnt an enormous amount at the helm.
“It’s a big job but I enjoyed it,” he said.
“I’ve got no regrets at all.
“Lavington’s a great club and I’m glad I was able to spend seven years there.
“I’ll play footy in Melbourne with some mates, but nothing has been finalised yet.”
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Originally from Benalla, Saker joined Lavington from VFL club Werribee where he played 50 senior matches.
In another blow for the Panthers, fellow defender Jack Harland has signed with Moama.
Curtis will take a new-look spine into this season with Adam Prior (Culcairn), Andrew Dess (Holbrook), Jono Spina (Canberra) and Saker departing.
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