Group 11 will be void of arguably its best forward in 2018 after barnstorming Forbes Magpies prop Zac Merritt signed with Bathurst St Pat’s.
St Pat’s president David Chapman confirmed the move on Wednesday, with Merritt, a premiership winner with the Magpies in 2016, re-joining the Group 10 club he enjoyed three seasons at between 2011 and 2013.
Chapman, in his second year at the helm of the Bathurst club, was thrilled with the addition of Merritt, which, alongside captain-coach Greg Behan, will give the blue and whites one of the best starting prop combinations in Group 10.
“And the thing about picking up Zac is he’s performed here before and we like what he brings to the club on and off the field,” Chapman added.
“He’s moving here this weekend. He’ll have an off-season under his belt. There’s some familiar faces still at the club from his time here before.
“He’ll settle in well. It’ll be an easy move.”
Merritt’s a massive pick-up for the St Pat’s club.
He took out the 2017 most influential player in Group 11 Fairfax run poll in June, his footwork at the line making him one of the hardest players to tackle in Western.
Chapman added the club was keen to add a few more pieces to play alongside Merritt ahead of the new season.
“We’ll look internally and then further a field as well,” he added.
“The fact we didn’t make the semis in premier league last year ... we were successful elsewhere but it’s all about premier league and that hurt us.
“We’re not massively active (in the player market) but we’re not waiting until cricket season’s over before we look at players.
“Others are still a work in progress.”
New Forbes coach Cameron Greenhalgh said Merritt’s loss would be felt at the Magpies, but he wished the powerhouse prop all the best in his new venture.
“Zac’s moved on. That’s a big loss,” he said.
“We’ve been active in recruitment and securing our locals, there’s plenty of good footballers in town.
“There’s a few we’re speaking with this week. We’re 90 per cent over the line, we’ll pursue those and keep everyone happy before the end of the year.”