The departures of Ben Daley and Curtis Browning are further proof of the evolution underway at the Queensland Reds, captain James Slipper says.
Daley and Browning both revealed on Wednesday they would leave the Reds at the end of the season to take up offers elsewhere.
Three-Test Wallaby prop Daley has signed a deal with the Western Force, while back-rower Browning is off to newly-promoted French Top 14 side Lyon.
The Reds likely wouldn’t have offered either a new contract, and indeed Daley’s fresh start will probably come with their blessing after years of wretched luck with injury in Brisbane.
Browning, meanwhile, finally broke through to the starting team this year but faced tough competition in his position after the recruitment of Leroy Houston, George Smith and Caleb Timu, while highly-rated youngsters Adam Korczyk and Michael Gunn are also on the books.
Slipper said it hurts to see the pair go but player attrition is a natural part of sport.
“It’s never nice seeing teammates, or mates, walk out the door,” Slipper said.
“Things come around and go around and we’re in a bit of a cycle now, we’re trying to rebuild for the future, and we’re pretty excited about that.
“Unfortunately some players will move on, make life decisions where they want to go overseas or play at a different club. There’s not much you can do about that.
“To lose two quality players and young men is going to hurt the club but we wish them all the best.”
Daley and Browning join teammates Liam Gill (France), Greg Holmes (England), Saia Fainga’a (Brumbies), Anthony Fainga’a (Japan) and Ayumu Goromaru (France) as senior players on their way out of Ballymore.
Wallabies and Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore will also play for the Reds in 2017, while there is increasing speculation five-eighth Quade Cooper and possibly Will Genia could return from Europe and follow suit.