COLAC Imperials are set to lose their best player ahead of the 2012 Colac district football season.
Harley Lewis, who won the Cats’ best and fairest in his first season at Western Oval, has told the club he wants to test his football with Geelong West St Peters.
Lewis’s clearance for the Geelong Football League club was pending this week but Imperials assistant coach Andrew Scott said the club had no issues with him planning to leave.
Lewis was one of five Geelong-based players to sign with Imperials in 2011, including coach Craig Williams and then-assistant Aaron Langsworth.
The 20-year-old from Barwon Heads lit up the Colac District Football League with his pace and skills roving off ruckman Tim Scott in the centre square.
He featured in the best players 13 times in 16 matches and kicked 19 goals as the Cats finished eighth.
Andrew Scott said the club was disappointed to lose Lewis but said “where there’s a loss there’s a gain”.
“He’s only young and he wants to have a crack at as high a level of footy as possible. He thought the GFL was his opportunity,” he said.
“It’s a pretty big loss. We’re going to compensate with Stevie Parker playing a different role this year, with him hopefully staying injury-sound.
“And the likes of Jai Whitson and a few of the younger blokes from the under-17s stepping up.
“He is a big loss but at the same time he’ll be compensated by the guys.”
Colac Imperials have had a low-key off-season, with Lewis the only major departure under second-year coach Craig Williams.
Colac Tiger Jason Green is the only major arrival, and the club has held on to Geelong-based players Robert Emslie, Myles Benham and Aaron Langsworth.
Scott said Green was the Cats’ main recruiting target but club leaders were “keeping our ears and eyes open”.
“We’re pretty much trying to maintain our list as good as possible and try to keep what we had last year,” he said.
“Jase Green is a good example of someone we needed, we needed someone to play that midfield-forward role.
“We targeted him at the end of last year and he’s come over for a kick.”
Imps are training on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and are planning a one-day training trip in March.