Rugby League

Canberra Raiders lock Shaun Fensom in doubt for NRL season-opener

He has pushed himself to recover from a knee reconstruction in quick time, but Canberra Raiders lock Shaun Fensom is now racing to be fit for next weekend's NRL season-opener because of a hamstring injury.

Fensom has had an injection to try and fast-track his recovery, but Raiders coach Ricky Stuart insists the 26-year-old won't be risked against the Cronulla Sharks on March 8 if there is doubt over his fitness.

Fensom suffered a season-ending ruptured knee ligament in August last year, his dedication to rehab enabling him to make a comeback in just six months and score a try in Canberra's final trial match against the Newcastle Knights last weekend.

While Fensom's knee is sound, surgeon's repaired his torn anterior cruciate ligament by taking a ligament graft from his hamstring. It's that hamstring which is now causing Fensom trouble.

Fensom has had a platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection, which stimulates recovery, and scan results on Monday will determine if he is on track to play against the Sharks.

"The knee's going fine, we wouldn't have let him play last week if the knee was a drama, it's the hamstring," Stuart said. "It's not major, it's just his hammy giving him a bit of strife at the moment.

Advertisement

"He did it at training ... he'd been doing most of the work in training, it's just the last week we've restricted him a little bit because he's very hard to hold back."

Pending Fensom's fitness, Stuart has the luxury of a full squad to choose from when he selects his team on Tuesday. Raiders captain Jarrod Croker has recovered from the concussion he suffered against the Knights and returned to full training late last week after receiving medical clearance.

Fensom was last week appointed as part of Croker's leadership team, along with recruits Josh Hodgson, Sia Soliola and Frank-Paul N'uausala. Soliola and N'uausala are options to cover for Fensom at lock if he is ruled out, along with Joel Edwards and Paul Vaughan.

"We've got options there, but even if we didn't have an option I wouldn't rush Fenno back for the first game of the year," Stuart said. "If it was a do-or-die game he could play, I could pick him today, that's how close he is. But if I don't play him it'll be purely because we're looking after him."

Stuart continues to keep his players on their toes and competitive at training, not yet revealing the make-up of his round-one squad to them. The most contentious positions are still half-back, wing and the make-up of the bench.

Mitch Cornish is favoured to get first crack at half-back ahead of Sam Williams, having started the final three games last year, resulting in three consecutive wins. Jordan Rapana has been impressive in the trial matches and will challenge Jeremy Hawkins for a place on the wing.

England representative rake Hodgson has secured the No. 9 jersey, likely leaving Williams, Josh McCrone and Glen Buttriss to fight for the utility role on the bench.

Advertisement