Shaun Fensom will line up for his 100th NRL appearance against the Storm in Round 19. Credit: Charles Knight. Copyright: NRL Photos.
The Raiders will have to overcome a curious case of the centurion's curse if they're to give Shaun Fensom, anointed by teammates as a future club captain, a milestone match to remember.
Fensom will suit up for his 100th game for the Raiders this Saturday night since making his debut in 2009, and will be hoping the game pans out at least a little differently to the recent landmark fixtures of teammates Glen Buttriss and Josh McCrone.
On a miserable Sunday afternoon at Brookvale back in Round 8, Manly rained right all over Buttriss's 100th game parade to the tune of a 54-18 thrashing, while in 2013 the Storm helped mark McCrone's ton by inflicting the club's biggest ever loss, a 68-4 trouncing that signalled the beginning of the end for former coach David Furner, who found himself out of a job by the time McCrone lined up for appearance number 103.
Centre Jarrod Croker is the last of the Green Machine to experience a win in his 100th appearance, having kicked the match winning conversion to secure a 24-22 defeat of the Roosters in Round 5 last year, and he believes Fensom's attributes for the captaincy role in the future will be on plain showing in his minimal fuss approach to the milestone.
"It's a big game for ‘Fenno’ obviously, but whether it's his first game or his hundredth game he's going to play the same way, so it's up to the other 16 blokes out there to dig in and get the win for him," Croker said.
"He's definitely got the qualities and the attributes (for captaincy). He plays week-in, week-out and he's going to show up for you every week.
"There aren’t many players in the comp who can do that, you know what you're going to get with ‘Fenno’."
Since becoming a regular in the Raiders engine room in 2010, Fensom consistently ranks among the NRL's top workhorses. That’s the case again this season, polishing off an average of 47.1 tackles per game, which is made even more impressive by the fact his tackle efficiency rating is a phenomenal 97.9 per cent.
In translation, the 25-year-old only misses two tackles for every 100 makes, and Raiders prop Dane Tilse says it is Fensom's extraordinary work rate and attention to detail that has teammates young and old taking their cues from their unassuming lock.
"Fenno's played a few seasons now and he's already a leader in the group so I'm sure he'll progress with that over the next few years," says Tilse.
"The young blokes coming through definitely look up to him, but so do the older guys just because of his workload and the way he handles himself.
"He's always there doing the little things every week and getting through a stack of work, he's been our best this year, and has been for a few in a row now."