Blake Austin is set to quit the Wests Tigers and link with Canberra on a multi-year deal with the Raiders now turning their attention to Newcastle flyer Akuila Uate.
Austin revived his NRL career at the Tigers this season and filled in the utility role at the club, playing halfback, fullback, hooker and five-eighth. Despite having a year to run on his contract, Austin is set to be offered a release from the Tigers as he looks to help fill the halves void at the Raiders having joined the Tigers from Penrith this season.
The Tigers have emerging players Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses as their halves combination next season following the impending departure of Austin and the retirement of veteran Braith Anasta. A host of other players including Jack Buchanan, Tim Moltzen and Kurtis Rowe could also be forced out of the Tigers.
With Anthony Milford leaving for Brisbane and skipper Terry Campese relegated to NSW Cup in the final rounds of the season, the Raiders are searching to boost their depleted halves stocks.
Austin, who played 19 games this season, rejected interest from the Sharks to link with the Raiders. He'll compete with incumbents Campese, Mitch Cornish and Josh McCrone for a spot in the halves while former Canberra halfback Sam Williams is also returning to the club after a one season stint away – split between St George Illawarra and Catalan Dragons.
After being unable to attract marquee players to the club, the Raiders are starting to build their roster for next year. Austin will join Sisa Waqa and English Super League duo Josh Hodgson and Iosia Soliola at the club.
Contracted outside backs including Uate, Brett Stewart and Josh Hoffman could also be on the Raiders' radar as they look to add some attacking strike to their backline following Milford's exit. Injury restricted Uate to 15 games and saw the emergence of the Mata'utia brothers at the Knights.