Canberra Raiders School Holiday Activity Clinic, Elite Trining Centre, Pacific Bay Resort: Ex Urunga local Shaun Fensom at the clinic.
Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate

Whilst it wasn't the starting jersey that he so dearly desires, Raiders star Shaun Fensom was nonetheless thrilled to be recognised by Country Origin selectors after being named as the side's 18th man.

After Fensom was initially not being named in the side, Raiders fans in their droves were crying foul of selectors given the stellar form and inspirational deeds of one of their favourite sons over a number of years. 

The man himself was also disappointed upon hearing that he had initially been left out of the side, yet again.

"If I'm being completely honest, then yeah, I was pretty disappointed when I first missed out on selection," Fensom revealed. "One of the goals that I want to accomplish in my career is to play for Country. I'm very passionate about bush football, I'm proud of where I come from and I want to test myself against representative class players."

Fensom is not the type of person to grow sullen and 'kick up a stink' and he dealt with the disappointment in the mature and professional nature that encompasses his demeanour. 

"The disappointment was definitely there but I didn't want to make a big deal about it, all I can do is keep my head down and keep training hard so that eventually one day I can run out in the maroon and yellow of Country."

Although he won't be running out onto the field in the maroon and yellow of Country, Fensom was still thrilled to be recognised by selectors after he was chosen as a late inclusion in the squad as 18th man.

"I'd obviously prefer to be playing but the selection does give me confidence because it means that I'm not far off selection in the top 17," Fensom said. "Even though I'm not playing it's been a great experience and very rewarding to be able to promote our game to country areas that don't normally have great access to NRL players."

While Raiders fans will be robbed of watching Fensom portraying his worth on the field in the representative arena, they will still able to support the likes of Josh McCrone, Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton, who have all been selected for Country. 

"It's a good reward for those three after their form this year," Fensom said. "They thoroughly deserve their selections and I can't wait to cheer them and the rest of my Country team mates on.

"It's going to be a fantastic occasion here in Dubbo and hopefully there will be a big crowd out at Apex Oval on Sunday to enjoy the spectacle."

While Fensom is still yet to receive the representative recognition that his coaching  staff, team mates and supporters know he deserves, Coach Ricky Stuart has no doubt that higher representative honours will eventually come to the 25 year old, and they won't just be limited to Country honours.

"I think Fensom will play State of Origin one day," Stuart said. "I think I've got the credibility to say that in regards to being an Origin Coach. He's extremely valued here at the Raiders and I have no doubt that he will have a similar effect on representative sides."

Country v City kicks off on Sunday at 3:00pm at Caltex Park, Dubbo.