Bad blood has simmered to the surface ahead of Shaun Fensom’s first game against former club Canberra after the North Queensland claimed the no-frills forward had a “point to prove”.
Fensom signed for the Cowboys in February after the Raiders released the 28-year-old with a season left on his deal due to salary cap pressures.
The call to abruptly ended the local junior’s eight-year stint in the nation’s capital was described by Ricky Stuart as: “the hardest thing I have had to do as Raiders coach”.
Fensom has remained tight-lipped about his exit, but Cowboys assistant Todd Payten revealed the workaholic back-rower would be out to prove Stuart wrong on Saturday in his 150th NRL game.
“I think he was rightfully disappointed with the way it was handled,” Payten said of Fensom’s Raiders departure.
“He has a point to prove on Saturday.
“I am looking forward to him proving some people wrong down there.”
Fensom missed a chance to run out against his former club in round one, not making his Cowboys debut until the third week.
But Payten said nothing would stop him running out against the Raiders on Saturday night.
“I am pretty excited to see Fenno go up against his old team,” he said.
“He’s been excited about that all week.
“He copped a fair knock last week and came off.
“I asked him post game whether he was sweet for this week and he said ‘I’d play with one arm against my old team’.
“That’s where his head is at the moment.”
Fensom is averaging 85m and 20 tackles a game off the bench for North Queensland this year.
“He’s been invaluable for us this year,” Payten said.
“He came in the week leading into round one – he had to learn very quickly.
“We have had injuries go against us and he has had to play big minutes at certain times and he has really handled his end.”
Fensom will be desperate to help inflict more pain on Canberra with a Cowboys win.
Pre-season title favourites the Raiders need to win six of their remaining nine games to remain in the finals hunt after three straight losses.
“Look at where they were last year and where they are now – I think they would concede they are underperforming,” Payten said of Canberra.