One of SANFL's greatest coaches believes Jydon Neagle was on the verge of becoming an elite player in the powerful State competition.
Seven-time Central District premiership mentor Roy Laird's high praise augurs well for Wodonga Raiders after the Border club's three-time best and fairest elected to head home after only one year in Adelaide.
"I reckon he was going to be outstanding moving forward, I just reckon it took him a season to adapt to probably the increase in intensity," the highly respected Laird said.
"He played some high quality football, but probably didn't dominate as he would have going forward.
"We were sad to see him go."
When he had the ball in his hand, something happened positively for our team.Roy Laird on Jydon Neagle
Neagle's return to Raiders has steeled belief the club can push for the top three after falling to Myrtleford in last year's elimination final.
"He was really aggressive, good intimidation at this level, his use of the ball was outstanding, probably best one or two users of the ball all season," Laird said.
"He has an excellent footy brain and when he had the ball in his hand, something happened positively for our team, he just didn't blaze away."
Neagle played 17 games for the Bulldogs, averaging 17 disposals.
He played in the midfield, kicking 11 goals.
Unfortunately for Raiders, Neagle will miss the first two games against Albury and Corowa-Rutherglen due to suspension.
More to come
Raiders kick-start the season with a stand alone away clash against the Tigers on March 28.
Meanwhile, younger brother Jaxon will join his brother after 12 games at Centrals.
"He played the earlier part of the season and did some really nice things," Laird said.
"He played essentially as a half-back flanker and we saw him as an intercept mark type player moving forward."