Tireless Canberra lock Shaun Fensom is progressing faster than expected from an ACL tear that ended his 2014 season early.
In a boon to both his club – looking to start strongly after a disappointing 2014 – as well as NRL Fantasy coaches hoping to take advantage of his massive work rate, Fensom told NRL.com he is already back to 80 per cent training despite only sustaining the serious injury in August.
"It's coming along really well. All the medical staff and trainers here have put a lot of hours and effort into it and I've also put a lot of hours on the training paddock getting it right and it's coming along really well," he said.
"I'm not doing full training just yet but about 80 per cent. I can't do opposed [sessions] just yet, just for people coming in and chopping my leg when I'm not ready. Slow and steady, there's still plenty of time til the season starts!"
He said he is "not too sure" whether he'll be in contention for a Round 1 return but the club was hopeful he would be able to run out for the Green Machine by Round 5 at the latest.
"To be honest it's come along a lot quicker than I thought, I thought I'd be [out] for a fair while but the way things are now, [treatment is] very advanced, people are getting back quicker and stronger every year so it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be."
In the meantime Fensom has been able to do most of the gruelling fitness work with his teammates over summer, and he said after a strong finish to 2014 the club would be looking to start 2015 even stronger and be better at their home ground.
"Just watching the boys out there doing opposed [sessions], the training and ball work sessions, they're training really hard and look very sharp," he said.
"Our home record was very poor last year so we need to turn that back into a fortress. Bring it back to what it was like in the old days when teams used to hate coming here."
If Fensom does miss the opening salvos of 2015, the club will be well served for replacements in his position with Kiwi internationals Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Roosters) and Sia Soliola (St Helens) joining the Raiders for 2015.
"We've recruited a couple of very good players in Frank-Paul, and Sia as well," Fensom said.
"They're going to add a lot of experience, they've got a lot of first grade games under their belt."
The pair's experience as premiership winners (Nuuausala with the Roosters in 2013 and Soliola with St Helens last year) and as international players would help out Canberra's younger players, he added.