Marong's prized recruit Sean Williams has left the Panthers to return to his home club Rochester in the Goulburn Valley Football League.
Williams signed with Marong last November after spending five seasons with Bendigo Football Netball League power Eaglehawk.
The left-footer was a member of the Borough's 2018 premiership team and won the club's goal kicking award three times.
He was expected to be one of the premier forwards in the Loddon Valley Football Netball League before his decision to return to Rochester for what Marong coach Taylor Beard described as "personal reasons".
Beard said the Panthers were hopeful Williams would return to the club in 2021.
"Sean is a very good player and, while his stay was brief, he showed some great leadership when he had to,'' Beard said.
"We'll keep in touch with Sean, for sure."
Read more: Could the BFNL return in July?
Beard said the Panthers had handled the COVID-19 restrictions well, but motivation levels were starting to drain.
"We were doing a fair bit of training up until last Monday when the league had its meeting,'' Beard said.
"We decided to cut back until we know more. We don't want to over do it for a lot of players. If we get the green light we'll do a hard block for a few weeks.
"The doubt has crept in, so we're reading it that we're unlikely to play.
"We've kept everyone at a reasonable fitness level, so a couple of weeks off won't hurt."
Should the LVFNL decide to start the 2020 season, Beard said multiple weeks of contact training would be critical to the club's preparation.
"You'd need three to four weeks of contact training at a minimum,'' he said.
"(If the season goes ahead) we've talked about going to three nights a week of training for a couple of weeks just to get an extra couple of sessions in and then back off before we start playing.
"We'd want three to fours weeks training, so when you put that into perspective we're getting pretty close to a final decision."
"As far as next year goes, we're keen to retain players as of now regardless of whether we play or not this year,'' Beard said.
"It's important we get information from AFL Victoria about salary caps and player points as soon as possible.
"Everyone wants to retain their lists and without playing it's hard to do so."
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