Nelson Bay coach Sean McGrath has been encouraging Jayden Rymer to look elsewhere for a while now.
And although the Marlins will miss their star Australian rules player in 2019, McGrath says he's pleased the 21-year-old has opted to have a crack.
The 2016 Elliott Davey Medal winner recently relocated from Port Stephens to the Gold Coast and the midfielder is set to line-up with Queensland AFL side the Broadbeach Cats.
"It definitely does leave a hole for us, but I was a big advocate for him [Rymer] going," McGrath said.
"I'm glad he's going to have a look at what the rest of the world can offer and we wish him the best of luck.
"He's pretty shy and doesn't say too much, but I think he's genuinely excited about it all.
"It's something he wanted to do and wasn't forced to do, which makes a difference.
"I've encouraged him a bit the last couple of years because I didn't want him to get to 24 or 25 and say that could have been me."
McGrath said the "opportunity" came about via former Nelson Bay now Broadbeach player Blake Erickson.
Elsewhere in AFL Hunter Central Coast, Terrigal Avoca's three-time league best and fairest James Webster (knee) is set to miss the early rounds while premiers Newcastle City welcome back Zac MacDonald, Hugh Kelleher and Hugh Blanchfield.
Coaching wise, Nic Tomlinson will be joined in the Cardiff ranks by Rowan Bilkey and Adam Clarke following the departure of Nathan Harkness, Michael Solomons replaces Michael Tos at Wyong Lakes and Killarney Vale's Scott Reed has retired with Brendan Lewis and Corey Shackleton now holding the reins.
The 2019 competition, under the new banner of AFL Hunter Central Coast, kicks off March 30.