It's going to be genuinely exciting to see what kind of impact they can have in townBrendan Sheather
WODONGA Raiders have trumped at least two rival clubs in the race to sign Culcairn star Jye Shields.
Shields had been on the recruiting radar of several O&M clubs after another stellar season with the Lions.
The midfield maestro took his game to another level this season and finished runner-up in the Azzi medal for a third year in-a-row.
The 25-year-old weighed up several offers including rivals Albury and Lavington before the Raiders emerged with the prized signature.
And in a further boost the Raiders have also signed highly rated Lions duo Tim Hallinan and Tim Haines.
The Raiders have emerged as the early pacesetters in the recruiting stakes after also luring Jydon and Jaxon Neagle and Azzi medallist Steve Jolliffe back to Birallee Park.
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Brett Lefoe and Beau Packer are also returning to the club from Howlong.
Culcairn president, Brendan Sheather, said it was exciting to see Shields, Hallinan and Haines challenge themselves at the higher level.
"I think it was inevitable that Jye and both Tim's were always going to have a crack at the O&M at some stage," Sheather said.
"We feel fortunate for the outstanding service they have given us over the past few seasons.
"They have kept us informed about their intentions since the season finished and we encourage them to play at the highest level they can.
"Obviously from a club perspective it is disappointing to lose three players of that calibre.
"But it's going to be genuinely exciting to see what kind of impact they can have in town.
"I would be surprised if Jye didn't have an impact straight away."
Shields arrived from Kiewa Sandy Creek at the end of 2015 and has spent the past four seasons at the den.
He won the Lions best and fairest two years ago and is a raging favourite to win the honour again on Saturday night when the club holds its presentation night.
Sheather rated Shields the greatest player at the den in the modern era.
"I rate Jye as the best player that I've seen at Culcairn," he said.
"There is probably three names that are brought up when the conversation arises and they are Michael Killeen, Graham Fruean and Jye.
"Just some of the freak things that Jye can do and how he can play in different positions probably makes him No. 1 over the past couple of decades."
Sheather said the Lions would sorely miss the talented trio not only for the on-field exploits but also their presence around the club.
"Off field they have been just as good as on field and I know our juniors will miss them," he said.
"They spent a lot of time with the juniors and helping with their development."
In a further bonus, the Raiders are expected to keep the majority of their list.
They lost the elimination final to Myrtleford but look well poised to make further inroads next season.