A desire to challenge himself has led Alex Ronayne to make one of the biggest crosstown moves in recent Group 11 history.
The multiple premiership-winning back-rower has departed Dubbo CYMS to sign on as the Raiders' captain-coach for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
It marks a return to the club Ronayne spent time at as a junior and he heads back as one of the toughest and most respected players in the competition.
"It's just a bit of a challenge," Ronayne said of the move.
"I wanted to coach and Jarryn [Powyer] is there at CYMS and he does a great job.
"It was tough. I was at CYMS for seven years and built a good bond there and it was very tough. It's not a decision I made overnight but I think I'm making the right move."
Ronayne has been thinking about taking on a coaching role only in the last couple of years and with Powyer settled as captain-coach of CYMS after leading the Fishies to the grand final in his first season at the helm the opportunity at the Raiders was too good to pass up.
Ronayne will replace Wes Middleton at Macquarie and the Raiders are desperate to see the new recruit provide some stability and consistency.
Not coach Jade Williams' stint at the Raiders in 2011 and 2012 has a coach completed two full seasons at the helm of the club.
Since Williams, John Grey completed one-and-a-half seasons in the top job before his high-profile and controversial switch to CYMS, while Guy Meredith, Steve McLellan, Zac Rennick, Dylan Hill, and Middleton have all had a turn in the role since.
"The aim is for that continuity," Raiders president Ross McDermott said.
"But you can only keep going if you're heading in the right direction and the last couple haven't.
"We want a coach who will last years and fit with the mould we've got."
McDermott admitted the 2018 season under Middleton was a hugely disappointing one.
There was a huge amount of hype around the side heading into the new campaign but an opening round draw with Narromine was a sign of things to come, as the side struggled to find consistency all campaign and ultimately missed out on the finals.
The club's league tag side was the only Macquarie team to make finals and, in what McDermott thinks may have been a club first, the Raiders were forced to forfeit a match due to low numbers in the juniors.
That's a game you look forward to as a captain-coach.Alex Ronayne on playing against CYMS
Ronayne may be the showpiece signing, but the new-look board is eager to ensure development across the club.
"We need to do more with our juniors," McDermott said.
"We want to really look after South Dubbo and work with Ryan O'Connor there and make it one big family club."
In terms of first grade, McDermott isn't putting any pressure on Ronayne.
The new captain-coach is eager for a return to finals but after seeing the men in blue concede 40 or more points on seven occasions last year McDermott is focused on the bigger picture.
"It's about being competitive. As long as we're getting competitive and not getting beat by 50 or 60 points and getting disheartened," he said.
"I watched Alex play for Group 11 against Group 10 and he wasn't the biggest forward out there but he was competitive and that's what we need.
"That's the biggest thing. He won't lie down. He'll keep going."
And while there's a lot to happen between now and the 2020 Group 11 season, the first meeting between Ronayne's Raiders and CYMS is one the new signing is already eyeing.
"Bloody oath," Ronayne said, adding he has nothing but love for CYMS.
"I'm looking forward to it. They're tough and I know how they play so that's a game you look forward to as a captain-coach."
The Ronayne signing follows Macquarie's well-attended annual general meeting last weekend, where Jarryd Meredith, Matt Lane, and Tim Allan all joined the executive committee.