For several months after his Cowboys contract expired, Shaun Fensom was working as a carpenter hoping his professional rugby league career was not over.
The hard work that has defined his NRL career eventually paid off and now the 30-year-old forward is hell-bent on forcing his way into the Broncos top 17.
As a teenager, Fensom was in a Broncos' development squad and on the cusp of linking with the club. Fifteen years later he has finally been given the chance to further his 174-game NRL career with the glamour club.
After eight years at the Raiders and two seasons at the Cowboys he was without a deal, but not without hope.
"For a long period between the Cowboys and here I was working nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, and training by myself," Fensom said after Broncos training on Monday.
"I knew something would pop up and eventually it did when a few weeks ago the Broncos gave me an opportunity.
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"Because I am originally from northern NSW I was in a [Broncos] squad they had in 2004/2005. I was brought up here to the leagues club, shown around the training facilities and taken to a game.
"It wasn't to be then, but now I am here it is like a big circle."
Fensom broke his leg early in the 2017 grand final and left the field to much adulation after famously giving a "thumbs up" to the Cowboys faithful as he was taken from the field.
To get in that 17 is a real goal and I will be doing everything I can to get that jerseyBroncos signing Shaun Fensom
His road back to fitness was a rocky one and disrupted his 2018 pre-season.
Now the former Raider is injury free and determined to be a regular NRL player each week. His defensive clout and high work rate will be a valuable asset in the wake of the departure of Josh McGuire to the Cowboys.
"That was a frustrating off-season [last year]. My broken leg took a little bit longer to get back to full strength but now I am fit and I have got no dramas at all," Fensom said.
"If I wasn't serious I wouldn't be here. To get in that 17 is a real goal and I will be doing everything I can to get that jersey at the end of the week.
"We have got a very young side here after we lost a few older players so I will come here and lend a hand wherever I can and try and pass on a bit of knowledge to the younger fellas in the group."
Fensom and his partner are also relieved to be settled after putting their recent nomadic existence behind them.
"We had the contents of our house packed up and we were going between my parents house and my wife’s parents house down in Canberra. It was a good experience," he grinned.