Rugby League


Canberra Raiders star Shaun Fensom faces one-week ban for dangerous tackle

Rugby League

Canberra Raiders tackling-machine Shaun Fensom will take an early guilty plea, after being charged with a grade two infringement over his tackle on Newcastle's Dane Gagai on the weekend.

It means Fensom will miss Sunday's home game against Gold Coast, further depleting  the Raiders' forward pack.

Canberra received some good news on Monday when it was confirmed Josh Papalii doesn’t require an operation after he suffered an ankle syndesmosis injury in Sunday night’s win at Newcastle.

Scan results will be known on Tuesday, but the star back rower has avoided any bone breaks or fractures and is expected to be sidelined for four to five weeks.

Fensom was slapped with a grade two dangerous contact charge after the NRL judiciary cited him for a '‘crusher'’ tackle on Gagai in the opening minute of the 26-20 win at Hunter Stadium.


The NRL made it clear at the start of the season they would adopt a zero tolerance policy to crusher tackles and shoulder charges, with lock Fensom one of the first players to fall victim to the crackdown.

Although the incident didn’t warrant a penalty from the referees, a scuffle ensued between Gagai and Fensom.

Earlier, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said it was unlikely they would contest the charge and risk having one of their key men unavailable for the round-four clash with Souths in Sydney.

Fensom was outstanding against Newcastle, racking up 53 tackles and 112 metres from 20 runs.

''I’ll talk to Shaun tomorrow [Tuesday], but with new interpretations such as the crusher and shoulder charge, the league were fairly definite in their directions and I don’t see we have too much room to move in regards to taking anything but the guilty plea,'' Stuart said.

''Fenno’s work ethic is such a big part of the reason why we’ve got this type of attitude amongst our team.

''Both of them [Papalii and Fensom] create an enormous impact in not being there.'’

Papalii will be out of action until at least round seven, but Stuart was pleased the Australia Test player had avoided a longer stint on the sideline.

''It’s not in a position on the leg where it’s going to be an operation,’’ he said.

''We don’t know for sure yet, but we’ve been told to prepare for a four to five-week injury.

''Losing Papa and Fenno, everyone’s going to have to take on an extra workload.’’

Their absence will force a major reshuffle of Canberra's pack. 

Stuart said moving mobile prop Paul Vaughan to lock was a ‘'definite possibility''.

Jake Foster and Lagi Setu may be options to replace Papalii, and representative prop David Shillington is a strong chance to return from a rib injury.

While Shillington is confident of a return, Canberra is wary of not rushing him back too quickly after he did so with the same injury last year.  

The Knights' victory was crucial for Canberra after an unlucky round-one loss to North Queensland in Townsville.

Stuart has been happy with his team’s commitment to developing a harder edge under his watch.

''The constant message I’m pushing is it’s unacceptable to turn up and be below par,'' he said.

''It’s unacceptable not to turn up with the right attitude and mentality, and the last two weeks has been a terrific start.''

Gold Coast has forward injury woes of its own, with star back rower Greg Bird (shoulder) and hooker Beau Falloon (knee) in doubt for this week. 


NRL round three: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at Canberra Stadium, 6.30pm

TV Time: Live on Fox Sports

Tickets available from Ticketek