Fa­ther backs his son in the NRL GF

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - Kea­gan El­der kea­gan.el­der@ coff­s­coas­tad­vo­cate.com.au

RUSS Fen­som has put his faith in his son Shaun’s team, the North Queens­land Cow­boys, to win this year’s NRL grand fi­nal.

Russ has backed Fen­som’s moves through­out his foot­ball career, which be­gan with the Bellin­gen Mag­pies.

Af­ter a short stint play­ing with the Nam­bucca Roost­ers, Fen­som was signed up by the Can­berra Raiders at 18.

Now 28, Russ said Fen­som had played more than 150 games and backed him all the way.

This Sun­day’s game won’t be any dif­fer­ent.

“Ob­vi­ously you’ve got to back the Cow­boys,” Russ said.

Russ has keenly watched his son de­velop in the game. He said Fen­som had put a lot of him­self into foot­ball.

The two-time Mal Meninga Medal win­ner was re­leased by the Raiders last year af­ter salary cap pres­sures.

But Russ said there was no bad blood be­tween his son and the first NRL club he played for.

He said Fen­som had com­fort­ably filled his boots in the tal­ented Cow­boys for­ward line-up.

When Fen­som takes to the field against the Storm in to­mor­row’s grand fi­nal, Russ will be scream­ing from the ANZ Sta­dium stands along with about 20 of his son’s close mates from Urunga and Mylestom.

“I used to back Can­berra but now I go for the Cow­boys. You’ve got to back the team your son plays for oth­er­wise you won’t get free tick­ets,” Russ quipped.

“We’ve got pretty rea­son­able seats in the mid­dle.”

Russ fan­cies the chances the Cow­boys will be able to get up de­spite be­ing against the odds.

“Mel­bourne is like a class act, they’ve got three of the best foot­ballers in the coun­try,” he said.

The Storm line-up in­cludes this year’s Dally M win­ner Cameron Smith, NRL full-back of the year Billy Slater and the com­pe­ti­tion’s lead­ing try-scorer Su­liasi Vu­ni­valu.

But Russ said “as­tute” Cow­boys coach Paul Green knew what he was do­ing.

He said over the sea­son, Green has shown he knew ex­actly what team to field and per­fectly man­aged when to take play­ers off.

De­spite the ab­sence of Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston for much of the sea­son, Russ said the Cow­boys al­ways man­aged to “find a way of do­ing things”.

“They’ve formed a dif­fer­ent for­ma­tion (with­out Thurston and Scott),” he said.

While Thurston has been left off the team sheet this grand fi­nal, Russ said it was ev­i­dent his in­flu­ence was not missed by his team mates.

He said the Cow­boys have had the pres­sure backed up on them through­out the sea­son but some­how man­aged to get through it and that’s why he was back­ing them to win.

Russ told the Daily Tele­graph this tough­ness and re­silience was no­tice­able.

“You can see it watch­ing the games on telly, even if you’re not there. You can see they play for each other,” he told the Daily Tele­graph.

Mel­bourne is like a class act, they’ve got three of the best foot­ballers in the coun­try. — Russ Fen­som

GAME FACE: Shaun Fen­som says the Cow­boys are a tough team and his fa­ther, Russ, be­lieves North Queens­land can take the fi­nal. PHOTO: MICHAEL CHAM­BERS

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