Rugby League

Raiders boss Don Furner hails David Shillington as Canberra's best recruit in 20 years

Canberra Raiders boss Don Furner has hailed departing prop David Shillington as the club's best recruit in the past 20 years ahead of his final home game.

It will be an emotional farewell for Shillington as he plays his 130th, and final, game for the Raiders at Canberra Stadium against the Penrith Panthers on Monday night.

The 32-year-old former Kangaroos and Queensland representative has been a fantastic servant for the Raiders since joining the club in 2009 from the Sydney Roosters. Shillington will continue his NRL career at the Gold Coast Titans.

Furner - who has been the Raiders' chief executive since 1994 - said Shillington had more than proven his worth over the years.

"In my time, I reckon he's the best recruit I've got," Furner said.

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"He took a big punt leaving the Roosters coming to Canberra and it paid off for him.

"He'll always go down well in our eyes and he'll always be welcomed back in any capacity."

Shillington has overcome a tough start to the year to once again be one of the leaders of the Raiders' forward pack.

He was surprisingly overlooked for the round one game against Cronulla and then broke his thumb while playing for Mounties in the NSW Cup.

Shillington came close to agreeing to a mid-season move to the English Super League, before Raiders coach Ricky Stuart assured he would be back playing in first grade.

Shillington agreed to a two-year deal with the Titans after being offered a one-year extension with the Raiders.

"That's not to say we would have got halfway through next year and offered him [another year] again," Furner said.

"We would have loved him to stay for another year, but he handled it really professionally.

"It was one of the few times where those things went down well."

Shillington played 73 games in his four seasons at the Roosters from 2005 to 2008, but faced competition from the likes of Mark O'Meley and Willie Mason for a place in the side.

"I remember him coming through and [Raiders coach] Neil Henry was really keen on him," Furner said.

"The Roosters had stockpiled and bought [Mark] O'Meley and [Willie] Mason.

"He then came off contract at the same time they brought in those guys, so they put a few on top of him just as he was making his mark at the Roosters.

"I take my hat off to him because you're taking a big risk, you're leaving a glamour club. I know all his Roosters mates were saying, 'what are you going to Canberra for?'

"I also know Shillo has always been a great ambassador for Canberra and always talks up the Raiders when he's in representative teams."

The Raiders have offered centre Joey Leilua a three-year contract, while they are starting talks to extend the contracts of Blake Austin, Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii, Shannon Boyd and Josh Hodgson.

TOP 10 RECRUITS

Here's what the Canberra Times sports writers have come up with as the top 10 Raiders recruits for the past 20 years:

1. David Shillington (2009-15): Raiders games: 129 

Arrived with big wraps from the Sydney Roosters in 2009 and hasn't let anyone down. Developed into a regular for Australia and Queensland during his seven seasons in Canberra and became one of the best props in the game. 

2. Clinton Schifcofske (2001-06): Raiders games: 139

Starting his career at the South Queensland Crushers and Parramatta, Schifcofske was named the Raiders' player of the year in his first season in 2001 and again in 2004. Took over the captaincy in 2006 before making a cross-code switch to the Queensland Reds. A fantastic goal-kicker who scored more than 1000 points for the Raiders.

3. Dane Tilse (2006-15): Raiders games: 201

The tallest man in the NRL, Tilse was one of the first selected in the Raiders' side before leaving midway through this season to join Hull KR. Always gave 100 per cent and you could never fault his work rate. Played three games for the Newcastle Knights in 2004.

4. Blake Ferguson (2011-13): Raiders games: 60

After playing 42 games for the Sharks, Ferguson added plenty of spark to the Raiders' back line. Hardly left the club on the best of terms and Raiders' fans have every right to be angry that he's playing some great footy for arch rivals, the Roosters. 

5. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (2006-13): Raiders games: 109

Injuries curtailed Learoyd-Lahrs' first three seasons with the Raiders, but his best form saw him in the NSW Origin side in 2009 and 2010. A destructive ball runner who joined the Melbourne Storm this year. Started his career with 10 games for the Broncos.

6. Bronson Harrison (2009-12): Raiders games: 83

A reliable second-rower, Harrison was a New Zealand international when he made the switch from the Wests Tigers in 2009. Harrison was a co-captain at the Raiders in 2011 before he signed with the Dragons in 2013.

7. Brett White (2011-14): Raiders games: 69

Forced out of the Melbourne Storm by the club's salary cap dramas, the Cooma product provided plenty of leadership at the Raiders when he joined the club in 2011. The veteran prop and former NSW and Australian representative remains with the Raiders as an assistant coach.

8. Adam Mogg (2003-06, 2010): Raiders games: 96

Dubbed "Adam who" with his shock selection in the Queensland Origin team, Mogg proved to be a great pick-up for the Raiders from Parramatta. The reliable outside back joined Catalans Dragons in 2007 before answering an SOS from the Raiders midway through the 2010 season.

9. Blake Austin (2015): Raiders games: 22

This could be going off a bit early, but Austin has been outstanding in his first season with the Raiders. He has gone from a utility player at the Panthers and the Tigers to making the five-eighth spot his own and being touted as a NSW Origin bolter.

10. Josh Hodgson (2015): Raiders games: 21

Another one based on one outstanding season, it's hard not to get excited by the performances of the English international. Hodgson appears to be the Raiders' long-term dummy half and has been a revelation in making the transition from the Super League.

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