Lavington powerhouse Aidan Johnson has joined VFL outfit Werribee.
The players were told of the decision at training on Thursday night.
"'Shauny' (Werribee and Lavington-listed player Shaun Mannagh) said to me, 'do you mind if I give your number to our officials?'," Johnson explained.
"They gave me a ring and as it turned out when we had the bye (May 22) I was going to Melbourne anyway, so I met them down there and they said, 'we have a spot on our list'.
"I spoke to the old boy (dad) and my brother and we just felt it might be an opportunity which doesn't pop up again.
"I spoke to (coach) Simon (Curtis) and while he doesn't want me to go, he was happy that I was trying to make it at a higher level and wished me all the best, he was good about it."
All VFL players must nominate a second club, which allows them another 'home' if they're not playing at the State League level.
"I'll still be with Lavington, so if I'm not playing at Werribee, I'll play back here," he added.
Like all Victorian-based leagues, outside the AFL, the VFL is currently on hold due to Victoria's week-long COVID lockdown, which is scheduled to end on Thursday night.
"I'll look to move down there as soon as the lockdown ends," Johnson confirmed.
Johnson had spoken previously of tackling the VFL and the fact he completed his plumbing apprenticeship at the start of the year will help in the transition.
The 21-year-old took the O and M by storm in his debut year in 2019, finishing runner-up in the Doug Strang Medal with 53 goals.
He took a crucial and spectacular mark in the final quarter of the grand final upset over Wangaratta.
The 194cm forward has played Lavington's seven games, booting 16 goals.
"I've been getting plenty of chances, but haven't been able to kick straight," he admitted.
While all clubs take great delight in a player tackling the higher level, Johnson's departure means the odds will shorten on the Panthers becoming the first club in 35 years to miss finals after claiming the previous premiership.
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Lavington is currently sixth with a three-four record, but hosts pre-season favourites Wangaratta when play is scheduled to resume on June 12.
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