This week we catch up with our former prop David Shillington who played for the club between 2009 – 2015.
Shillington scored five tries during his time with the Raiders and also represented Queensland and Australia.
Canberra Raider #282
What do you do for work now?
I am the Queensland manager for the Men of League Foundation these days.
What’s your favourite memory as a Raider?
I think playing semifinals football, particularly at home in Canberra.
Obviously, the Raiders haven’t had a lot of success in finals footy for a long time so to be a part of that was pretty cool. With the home ground advantage, the whole town got behind us. A couple of times we went on those late runs where we won most of our games in the last eight or ten rounds to make the finals.
Securing that home semi-final was fantastic, and hopefully one day, the boys can kick on and make another Grand Final and win it just like the old days. I’ll be cheering them on and will be there in person if it happens.
What did it mean to you to wear the Raiders jersey?
I loved it. It was pretty special for me. When I was around nine or ten years old, the Raiders were the gun team in the Mal Meninga era. I loved them. I still remember the team from the 1994 Grand Final.
Dave Furner was one of my favourite players because I was a young second rower back then and he was the gun goal kicking second rower back then. I loved the Raiders and then to grow up and play professionally for them was a thrill.
I moved down to the Raiders after playing for the Roosters and people raised eyebrows about that thinking ‘What are you going to do down in Canberra? Be bored and freeze?’. I ended up staying for seven years which was longer than I expected and I probably could have stayed longer too.
I have a lot of good memories, and the club will always hold a special place in my heart.
Who was your favourite teammate?
I was always unashamedly a fan of Shaun Fensom. He used to go above and beyond for the team every week and never winged about it.
He had a couple of shoulder reconstructions amongst other surgeries but made heaps of tackles, sometimes 60 per game. He was a tough bugger and just a good bloke as well.
I would always notice if he weren’t out on the field. I would notice that defensively, we were pretty loose around the ruck and that the opposition would be poking their nose through the line and playing the ball a little too quickly. However, when Fensom was on he would tighten up that ruck and make us a much better defensive side.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
Yeah, I do. There are probably six to eight players that I keep in touch with.
Footy is always hard like that. Sometimes you only play a year with someone; sometimes you only do a pre-season with someone. You start to get to know someone but then you move on, or they move on.
That’s the nature of the beast with footy, but I generally chat to someone that I played with at the Raiders every week or every second week. It’s good, there are a lot of strong and lasting friendships made.
What was your funniest moment as a Raider?
Well, the funniest guy would be Tom Learoyd-Lahrs.
He wasn’t a practical joker but he’s just a great storyteller and he’s a bit like Seinfeld where he would see the humour in the everyday parts of life.
He’s one of the best storytellers I’ve ever listened to but unfortunately, his stories went for a fair while. We’d all be sitting down at the coffee shop finished of coffees and the story would only be halfway through!
Do you have any advice for younger players?
I’ve got to say two things. One, if you’re from outside of Canberra and you are worried about moving to that city and not enjoying it, I would say forget about any worries and absolutely move down and have a go.
I originally signed a four year deal and when I signed it I thought I would probably do four years there and then go to England after that but I quickly signed for another three years. Nobody should hesitate when moving to Canberra itself, it’s a great town with great people down there.
My second point is for people who are playing and I know it sounds boring but hard-work and persistence absolutely pays off. You can work hard and then cop an injury and things don’t work out but with persistence and hard work it will work out eventually for you.
Canberra players of the past are great examples of this such as Shaun Fensom, the great Alan Tongue, and Josh Miller and Trevor Thurling who aren’t as bigger names but great contributors to the Raiders. They just worked their bums off and kept plugging away every week to build their careers and make a great contribution.