In a side that required an experienced figure at the coalface to lead the promising youngsters forward, David Shillington stood up and delivered one of his best seasons to date to finish second behind Jarrod Croker in the 2014 Meninga Medal count.
Whilst Shillington missed out on the Raiders most prestigious medal, he was awarded the Coaches Award at season’s end after his brilliant campaign in 2014.
Shillington’s year did not start off as he had of intended however.
The former Australian Test front-rower sustained rib cartilage damage during Canberra’s trial match against the Newcastle Knights in late February. The injury entailed that he would miss the Raiders opening two games of the year.
Entering the fray from the interchange bench in Round 3 against the Gold Coast Titans, Shillington delivered a telling reminder of just how influential he is to the Green Machine’s cause with 124 metres, 31 tackles and four offloads.
To make the performance all the more memorable was the fact that it was Shillington’s 100th match for the Raiders.
The following week Shillington returned to the starting side and was instrumental in nullifying the ferocious South Sydney pack of forwards as the Raiders triumphed 30-18 over the eventual 2014 Premiers. In the victory, Shillington’s brutal shot on George Burgess went down as one of the biggest hits of the season.
As the season unfolded, the 31 year old continued to be a pillar of strength up front for the Raiders, especially when the going was tough.
When a tough carry needed to be made, more often than not it was Shillington who put his hand up.
Strangely, despite the fact that it was a rare feat for an opposition front-rower to outplay him, Shillington was over-looked by Queensland selectors for this year’s State of Origin series.
Fortunately for the Raiders, the disappointment derived from his representative omission did not alter his supreme efforts for the Raiders.
Despite heading into the supposed twilight of his career, Shillington improved considerably on his statistics registered in 2013.
In his 17 matches for the year, Shillington averaged more minutes, gained 11 more metres and one extra tackle per game than last year.
He also registered 10 more tackle breaks and evolved as a ball distributer by more than doubling his offloads from 2013.
Alas, Shillington’s good form was cut short when he suffered a painful pectoral injury in Round 21 which ultimately ended his season and his chances of gaining selection in Australia’s Four Nations squad.
In a bitter twist of fate, Shillington joined a long list of unavailable front-rowers for the upcoming international campaign. Had he been free of injury, the 13 Test representative would have been almost certainly guaranteed a recall.
Off the field, Shillington was again a sterling example to the younger members of the squad and proved to be a tremendous ambassador for the club and the game in general. He also continued his studies through his Bachelor of Business at the University of Canberra.
Currently situated on 189 games, Shillington is in line to play his 200th NRL match in 2015.
Average Minutes: 47
Try Assists: 0
Try Saves: 0
Line Breaks: 0
Line Break Assists: 0
Tackle Breaks: 19
Average Metres: 121.6
Average Tackles: 22.4
Kick Metres: 1 kick for 9 metres