DUBBO Macquarie is on the hunt for a new hooker in 2013 after it was announced Group 11 and premiership star Jeremy Smith signed with Group 9 club Temora on Tuesday.
The news comes days after former Raiders captain-coach Jade Williams announced he too was moving to the Riverina to link with the Junee Diesels.
Smith's defection will be a bitter blow for incoming Raiders captain-coach John Grey as he is now left looking for a utility back to replace Williams and a goalkicker and hooker to replace 22-year-old Smith.
"It was a tough thing to leave Macquarie because it's the club where I played my junior football," Smith said. "They gave me a chance in first grade over the past two years, I won a premiership and played rep footy for Group 11.
"But I was keen for a change of scenery and even though it's going to be tough to go to a place where I don't know anyone, I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"Temora has it's 100-year anniversary next season and they are building towards having a real good crack at the premiership and I'm pretty excited to try and be a part of that."
Taking a "pro-active approach" the Dragons are active in the player market, with Smith's signature coming on the heels of them landing Samoan-born playmaker Pee Wee Moke. Temora coach Anthony Chamberyon said the signing of Smith had been a priority for his club.
"(Temora president) Alan Rands and I drove to Dubbo yesterday (Tuesday) to sign him (Smith)," Chamberyon said.
"He's got massive wraps."
For Smith himself, telling Grey and Raiders president Gavin Board of his departure was tough.
But the toughest part might be to come, with Smith admitting it would be weird to line up against Group 11 should they cross paths with Group 9 in next season's country championships.
"I had been in contact with John and Gavin the whole time and they both wished me well.
"They're quality people and a it's great club," Smith said.
"My first priority is to play good football at club level but if I'm lucky enough to make the Group 9 side I'd say there will be a few boys keen to put a good hit on me."