Heathcote District Football Netball League club White Hills has wasted little time in replacing departed recruit Kalan Huntly.
The Demons used the salary cap space and player points that were tied up with Huntly on former Goulburn Valley Football League inter-league squad member John Ikupu.
While Huntly was expected to play in the Demons' midfield before his sudden departure, Ikupu is a vastly different style of player.
Ikupu, who led Papua New Guinea to the AFL International Cup premiership in 2017, is a powerful key forward/ruckman who adds some much-needed depth to the Demons' big man department.
"It wasn't ideal that Kal decided to move on because he's an exciting footballer and we were excited to see what he could do in the White Hills colours,'' Demons' coach Sam Kerridge said.
"Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and one door closes and another door opens.
"We've been lucky enough to get a hold of the big man (Ikupu) and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do alongside the likes of Lachy Sidebottom."
A knee injury skittled the majority of the 2019 season for Ikupu.
Kerridge said the 30-year-old was working his way back to full fitness.
"Ideally, he'll go between the ruck and the forward 50,'' Kerridge said.
"We'll see how his body is by the time we get to the practice matches.
"We'd like to find a good balance with him and Lachy between the ruck and key forward."
Wednesday night was the Demons' final training season before the Christmas-New Year break.
After the 2020 season was cancelled of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerridge said the first six weeks of pre-season training had been a challenge.
"Considering everyone has had nine months off it was always going to be interesting to see how training went,'' he said.
"Without that base of fitness from playing matches and training all year... it was going to be a fine line between getting the boys really fit without overdoing it and them succumbing to quad, calf or hamstring injuries.
"Playing at the standard we do, you rely on the players to do fitness work in their own time, but we understand there's family and work commitments as well.
"Some players find it hard to get going, but we're really happy with the way the group has come back.
"Everyone has enjoyed being back around each other and back in a team environment."
While some clubs across the region are struggling to regain players to fill reserve grade teams for 2021, the Demons' player stocks are strong.
"We'll well and truly have enough players for seniors and reserves,'' Kerridge said.
"There's going to be good competition for spots, so it's an exciting time for the club."
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