One-time hard-working Raiders lock Shaun Fensom says he has settled into his new role as a prop at the Toyota Cowboys and is loving his football after making an early-season switch to North Queensland from Canberra.
Fensom was restricted to just 14 first grade games at Canberra last year – and just three beyond Round 12 – as coach Ricky Stuart preferred other players ahead of the long-serving Dorrigo product.
However Fensom quickly found a home in Townsville at the start of 2017, proving a handy acquisition given the losses of James Tamou and Ben Hannant as well as a timely one given the early-season loss of Matt Scott for the year.
Speaking after his team's impressive come-from-behind 15-14 extra-time win over the Sharks in their elimination final on Sunday, Fensom said while the February switch had happened quickly he hasn't looked back since.
"Yeah I'm loving it. I think it was a good move for myself and my family. I'm really enjoying my footy and my role here at the club at the moment," Fensom said.
"It all happened pretty quickly. My manager rang me and said they were pretty keen and I said 'yep let's go'.
"Next minute I was on a plane up to north Queensland… the transition's been seamless and the club and the players have made it so easy for me and my family."
Fensom has played 18 of 23 possible games since making his club debut in Round 3 with only some niggling injuries keeping him sidelined for short stints. The long-term lock has been used largely in the prop rotation, starting four games – including against the Sharks on Sunday – in the front row.
"I'm loving my role in the team, 13 and front row, there's not much difference these days in the middle of the field, it's something I'm really enjoying," he added.
Last Sunday was the first finals game that Fensom personally had featured in since 2012 and he got a first-hand experience of the kind of North Queensland spirit that carried them to the 2015 premiership.
"They never give up and always play for each other. Out on the field we just say we're going to turn up for each and that's what counts, you know they're going to do it. It shows out there," Fensom said.
Fensom is also enjoying the chance to get an up-close look at the superhuman feats being produced by clubmate Jason Taumalolo on a weekly basis. The Kiwi wrecking ball was at his phenomenal best against Cronulla, surging over for what proved a match-winning try along with his 259 metres and eight busts.
"He's a freak. Every set of six he gets his hands on the ball and runs it up," Fensom said.
"Every carry has as much energy as his first, it's pretty amazing to see.
"That (carrying four defenders over to score) is just how he is, he never gives up. He had four Sharks players on him and still managed to get the ball down.
"He's an incredible competitor."
Having got through the first hurdle after plenty weren't expecting them to, Fensom reckons the resilience they showed could propel them past the in-form Eels this Saturday and beyond.
"We can achieve a lot. We know what we can do," Fensom said.
"We've got a lot to work on from the game [on Sunday]. We'll review that this week at training. We believe in each other."
First published on NRL.com.