Blake Austin set to spark Canberra Raiders against Gold Coast TitansDavid Polkinghorne
Published: March 8 2018 - 3:59PM
It's not his preferred position, but the Canberra Raiders expect the benched Black Austin to provide a magic spark off the Green Machine bench.
Austin has been the Raiders five-eighth for the last three seasons, but Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has named him as utility for the away clash against the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.
Sam Williams has the halfback duties, while Aidan Sezer returned to five-eighth - the position he played for the Titans before arriving in Canberra.
The Raiders' mantra has been "team first" since hooker Josh Hodgson injured his knee at the World Cup, with everyone expected to help cover his loss.
Raiders winger Jordan Rapana said Austin's renowned running game would be a weapon against tiring defences - starting with the Titans in round one.
"Blake's a wonderful runner of the ball and a quality player. My own opinion is he'll be awesome coming off the bench when defences are tired," Rapana said.
"He can come out and bring his strength, which is running. I think he'll absolutely tear it up.
"He's got good footwork and when defences are tired, coming on halfway through a half, he'll spark some magic."
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker had a similar opinion of Austin's value as a utility.
He also praised the way the 27-year-old, who's off contract at the end of the season, has reacted to missing out on his more familiar No.6 jersey.
"Blake's just put the team first. He's excited for his new role," Croker said.
"We spoke about putting the team first ... and Blake's just taken that straight away. It's a team-first attitude by Blake and he's been great.
"You see what he brings when he's on the field for 80 so I can imagine the spark he's going to bring when he comes on to the field as a 14.
"He's that sort of bloke that gets the crowd off their seats pretty quickly so I'm excited to se him do it on Sunday."
NRL ROUND ONE
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at the Gold Coast, 6.30pm. Live on Fox Sports.
Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Aidan Sezer, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Joe Tapine, 13. Elliott Whitehead. Bench from: 14. Blake Austin, 15. Luke Bateman , 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Sia Soliola, 18. Charlie Gubb, 19. Brad Abbey, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Craig Garvey.
Titans squad: 1. Michael Gordon, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Dale Copley, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Phillip Sami, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Ashley Taylor, 8. Jai Arrow, 9. Nathan Peats, 10. Leilani Latu, 11. Kevin Proctor, 12. Ryan James (c), 13. Bryce Cartwright. Bench from: 14. Mitch Rein, 15. Max King, 16. Will Matthews, 17. Morgan Boyle, 18. Joe Greenwood, 19. Jai Whitbread, 20. Tyronne Roberts Davis, 21. Aj Brimson.
This story was found at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/rugby-league/canberra-raiders/blake-austin-set-to-spark-canberra-raiders-against-gold-coast-titans-20180307-h0x6mz.html