SOMETIMES you need to move away to truly appreciate somewhere special.
In Josh Saunders' case, a one-year stint in Geelong was all it took.
The star midfielder has re-signed at South Warrnambool and plans to relocate back to the south-west in the near future.
Saunders, who spent four seasons at St Kilda and managed 22 games, said the Warrnambool lifestyle appealed to he and girlfriend Teashene.
"I moved down to Geelong with the girlfriend to get out of Warrnambool for a bit and to live in a different part of the world," the 25-year-old said.
"There's a few more opportunities with work and I have family down there but we think Warrnambool is more the lifestyle we're after.
"It's nice and close to family, friends and the beach. We see our future there.
"It's nothing at all against the footy club I was at or anything at all. I think the future is exciting at South Warrnambool - there's a good group of young boys I get on well with."
Saunders plied his trade with South Barwon, the home club of Geelong's Tom Stewart and former North Melbourne defender Scott Thompson.
He featured in the Geelong Football League powerhouse's best players in 14 out of 18 games, capping a stellar season in Victoria's top country league.
But Saunders revealed he was impressed with the Roosters' direction under first-year mentor Mat Battistello.
"We sat down and had a chat a few weeks ago and went through how he can see the team going forward," he said.
"I was really impressed with how he presented it.
I don't think the playing group is too far off. It's exciting to work with a coach of (Mat Battistello's) calibre and hopefully we have enough talent to go all the way.Josh Saunders
"I don't think the playing group is too far off. It's exciting to work with a coach of his calibre and hopefully we have enough talent to go all the way."
South Warrnambool snapped up Saunders originally in 2016 after he was delisted from St Kilda's ranks.
The midfielder, known for his run-and-carry style, said time outside the AFL system had strengthened his leadership abilities.
"Things are really player-driven at this level and you have a little bit more control," Saunders said.
"It's a bit more about leadership. I'll bring what I've learnt and hopefully help to fast-track (development) of players a bit and help them get as much knowledge as possible."
The Roosters are striving to better a fifth-placed finish in 2020.
Saunders backed the club's brigade of young talents to add another layer of class in the off-season.
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