Fensom gets chance to shine
Raiders forward Shaun Fensom. Photo: Rohan Thomson
FINALLY, after thousands of tackles and back-to-back Mal Meninga medals, Shaun Fensom is on the verge of breaking into the State of Origin arena.
Canberra's workaholic lock is a step closer to earning his first Blues jersey after he was one of four Raiders players named in a 22-man Emerging Blues Squad on Saturday.
Former NSW fullback Josh Dugan, playmaker Josh McCrone and centre Blake Ferguson will join Fensom for a three-day camp in Sydney from January 18-20.
''It's a pretty big achievement and very rewarding knowing the hard work is starting to pay off,'' Fensom said.
''The camp will be a good insight to see what their plans are and what they want to achieve out of this Origin series.''
Fensom has been the Raiders' most consistent performer for the past two seasons and was rightfully honoured with the club's player of the year award both years.
However, until now that recognition hasn't translated on to the representative front, with the 24-year-old surprisingly overlooked for at least a spot in this year's Country team.
''It [the City v Country match] is in Coffs Harbour this year, that's my home town, so hopefully I can snag one of those jerseys,'' he said.
''You watch Origin on television and it's such a fast and physical game.
''Talking to [Raiders and Queensland prop] Dave Shillington, he reckons it's my sort of game, so hopefully my style of football will suit it.''
It's a view shared by former Raiders captain Alan Tongue, while Queensland coach Meninga believed Fensom would have earned a start for the Maroons if he was born north of the border.
''Shaun Fensom is definitely one of those Origin-style players,'' Tongue said.
''He's a guy that does those little one percenters, the dirty work Origin players do.''
While Fensom is chasing an Origin debut, Dugan is eager to return to the Blues after a solitary appearance last year.
The electric fullback featured in the opening game of the 2011 series before injury ruled him out of the remaining two games.
After a strong season with the Raiders in the absence of Terry Campese, five-eighth/halfback McCrone proved in his debut for Country he could fill the utility dummy-half role off the bench.
Ferguson also shone in that match, but made headlines for the wrong reasons for allegedly spitting on patrons at the recent Foreshore music festival.
Tongue said: ''The confidence we saw in him was unbelievable, so if he can keep progressing the way he's done in the last couple of years, it's phenomenal where he might be able to get to.
''It [his off-field behaviour] is definitely a concern, and something he needs to look at.
''The ball's in his court, but definitely talent-wise he can be one great footballer for the Raiders, but also for NSW.''