STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm's Wayne Schultz is returning to the VFL after signing with Essendon.
Essendon is the fourth VFL club for Schultz, who has previously played with North Ballarat, Port Melbourne and the Bendigo Gold.
Schultz was a co-coach of Bendigo Football League runner-up Strathfieldsaye with Darryl Wilson this year, finished runner-up to Sandhurst ruckman Tim Martin in the Michelsen Medal and was among Bendigo's best players in its inter-league loss to Ballarat.
"I'll be on the playing list with the VFL team down at Essendon next year," Schultz, 31, said on Saturday.
"I'll be doing a bit with the playing group as a leader in helping them develop as players and leaders, and I'll also be looking at building my learning and coaching skills while I'm down there.
"It's a good role that I'm excited about and one where there's a bit of flexibility around it.
"On the nights that Skip (Essendon VFL coach Hayden Skipworth) can't attend training, there will be chances to take the sessions, and with selection, if I miss out there'll be an opportunity to do some work in the box, so it may open up some doors down the track."
Schultz - who won the 2011 Michelsen Medal with Castlemaine - will maintain a close watch on Strathfieldsaye, but won't be an aligned player with the Storm.
"I'd love to stay with Strath, but with the qualification rules in the Bendigo league for VFL players, it makes it very difficult," Schultz said.
"I don't think it's fair on Strath to be mucking them around with their budget to have me coming back when we have byes or if I miss selection.
"But I'll still be on the Strath bandwagon and hopefully, they have a good season. It was a tough call, but opportunities like this don't come up to often.
"Whether it's in one year or three years down the track, I've indicated I'll be back at Strathfieldsaye, but I need to have a crack at this while the door is ajar."
With Schultz on the move, that's now 11 players from this year's inter-league team that has left the BFL.