Given his herculean efforts on the field since making his NRL debut for the Raiders in 2009 it is more than safe to assume that Shaun Fensom will again be donning the number 13 jersey in 2014. If however the two-time Meninga Medallist is unavailable, Ricky Stuart will be pleased that he has multiple other options to cover Fensom’s loss.
It would be a an extremely perplexing occurrence if Shaun Fensom were not selected as the starting lock forward for the Canberra Raiders by the time Round 1 rolls around.
Fensom’s phenomenal performances in the lime green jersey have embedded a colossal amount of respect and admiration in the Raiders coaching staff, playing group and fan base alike.
Whilst he is yet to receive recognition externally, Fensom is arguably the glue that holds the side together and in recent years, he has emerged as one of its leaders.
Last year Fensom averaged the most tackles of any player in the NRL in 2013, with the tireless lock forward getting through an incredible average of 47.3 tackles per match.
Given his superb club form over the last few years, Fensom has set his sights on breaking into the Country Origin team so Raiders fans can look forward to another fantastic year from this unrelenting competitor.
New recruit Lagi Setu arrives in the Nation’s Capital via the Melbourne Storm and is looking to take the next step in his NRL career after having previously been on a two year Mormon Mission.
Setu is a blockbusting back-rower with a strong carry, bruising defence and a skilled offload. He is able to play in the middle at lock or on the edges in the second row.
Due to this versatility, Setu will make a handy addition off the interchange bench where he will provide Coach Ricky Stuart with a multitude of options.
Whilst Kennedy prefers to play on the edges in the back-row, he is in a similar mould to Fensom and would prove a classy replacement if he were unavailable.
Like Fensom, Kennedy is an 80 minute player who gets through a mountain of work in both attack and defence. He also possesses plenty of skill with the football through his passing and offloading ability.
The 23 year old is renowned for being one of the fittest forwards at the club and again led the way in pre-season training in 2014 as he prepares to embark on his best season in the NRL to date.
Although he has been primarily used as a prop in his brief NRL career, Paul Vaughan filled in admirably at lock last year when Fensom was out injured.
Vaughan enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2013 in which he accomplished a host of achievements including his long-awaited NRL debut, receiving the Rookie of the Year Award at the club’s presentation night as well as selection in the Italian World Cup squad.
With an ability to play at either lock or in the front-row, Vaughan developed into an integral member of the side last year due to the noticeable impact he provided during his spells on the field.
In his 18 appearances for the year, Vaughan registered one try, 13 tackle breaks and three offloads in addition to his average of 94.4 vital metres in attack and 19.1 hard hitting tackles in defence.
The Gungahlin Bulls junior exudes enthusiasm, work ethic and a stellar attitude to improve himself. When you throw in his obvious natural athletic and footballing ability, it is clear that bigger and better things were to come of the 22 year old in the upcoming season.