Canberra Capitals star centre Marianna Tolo confirmed she will be saying au revoir to Australia after signing a deal with French team Aix-en-Province for next season.
The 22-year-old confirmed that she had signed a one-year deal with the French club yesterday after increased speculation that she would not line up for the Capitals next season the following the signing of Lauren Jackson last October.
Tolo has been an instrumental part of the Capitals since joining the club from the AIS in the 2008-09 season, twice being named Canberra's most valuable player in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and her departure is a big blow to the WNBL heavyweight, which missed the finals last season for the first time since 2004-05.
Tolo's decision to leave denies the Capitals a chance for Jackson and Tolo to create a powerful combination though coach Carrie Graf said that the club has had contingency plans in place since Jackson's deal was struck in October in the case Tolo decided to move on.
''[Playing in Europe] is something that I have always wanted to do and I think now is a good time to do it while I am young and I still have game in me,'' Tolo said.
''It will be a good opportunity to test myself against the international scale, to get myself out there and see what is around in Europe.''
Tolo has been thinking about making to move to Europe for some time, especially after the Capitals' season failed to live up to normal expectations.
''I have always had it in the back of my mind that in the year 2012 after the Olympics … would be a good year to go over, I have definitely really been thinking about it at the end of this season.''
It won't just be the different competitors that will be foreign to Tolo but also the surrounds and, crucially, the language barrier.
French lessons haven't started yet for the 196 centimetre centre, although she did study French for one term as a Year 9 student, not that she can recall very much.
Tolo is flatmates with Capitals small forward Carly Wilson who has been acting as a sounding board for the 22-year-old's concerns about the move to France after Wilson spent a season with French team Challes Les Eaux in 2008-09.
Graf said Tolo's presence would be missed by the Capitals and she was yet to finalise a replacement, but had already signed 195cm Canberra teenager Alex Bunton and also has Jackson.
''Lauren Jackson is a damn fine replacement and certainly Marianna will leave a gap, but we have signed Alex Bunton, we have Lauren Jackson,'' Graf said.
The WNBL free-agency list, released on Tuesday, includes potential centre replacements Abby Bishop and Rachel Herrick from Adelaide.