Hepburn's Johnson is Mallee-bound

ANOTHER of the Central Highlands Football League reigning premiers’ stars has been lured by a circling outside club.

Dual Hepburn premiership player Trevor Johnson is off to play for Jeparit-Rainbow in the Mallee competition next season.

The Courier understands it is a lucrative deal that has secured the talented key position player, who was a star during the Burras’ finals campaign in 2013.

Johnson’s departure follows that of Hepburn’s star forward Lee Cox, who has joined Central Murray club Tooleybuc-Manangatang, also in a believed high-paying deal.

The athletic Johnson played three seasons for the Burras – winning flags in 2010 and 2013 – while Cox leaves after seven years, three premierships and nearly 900 goals.

Hepburn coach Clive Raak said it was tough to keep players in a highly competitive market, where big offers were often made by outside clubs.

“That’s footy now,” Raak said. “Once you win a grand final, going back to back is one of the hardest things.

“We’ve got a budget, like every other club, and we’ve got to fit people into that budget.”

Johnson and Cox are among a handful of players from last season’s premiership team that aren’t expected to play for the Burras in 2014.

Midfielder Danny Abbott has retired, while ruckman Salesi Uhi also indicated his desire to hang up the boots.

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