Canberra Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin set to play

Canberra Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin set to play

The Green Machine's luck may be starting to turn with five-eighth Blake Austin set to be named in the Canberra Raiders' squad for a date with the competition front-runners.

Scan results cleared Austin of a serious ankle injury and he will likely be named in Ricky Stuart's squad on Tuesday and given every chance to play the St. George Illawarra Dragons at Mudgee's Glen Willow Stadium on Sunday.

Blake Austin was all smiles after receiving some positive news.

Blake Austin was all smiles after receiving some positive news.

Austin left Canberra Stadium on crutches after being helped from the field in the first half of Canberra's loss to the Cronulla Sharks last weekend but he was hopeful the injury wasn't too severe.

It is a massive boost for a Canberra outfit that struggled in attack and let a spot in the top eight slip through their grasp without the firing five-eighth.


While the 27-year-old's prayers have been answered, bench utility Ata Hingano and Sam Williams are waiting in the wings should he not be passed fit.

Williams has just returned from a knee injury of his own, and Tongan international Hingano is adamant he won't let anyone down if he gets another shot.

The chance to learn from Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was one of the major factors in Hingano's decision to play in Canberra, but he hasn't had many chances to hone his craft in a playmaking role since arriving.

Stuart shouldered the blame for Hingano's patchy showing in the halves because he has been "training him up as a utility nine player and he hasn't done a lot of work in the halves with us".

Hingano admits he wasn't quite ready to slot into the halves against the Sharks but he is adamant he won't have any dramas in rediscovering his magic touch for a clash with the high-flying Dragons.

"I wouldn’t say it’s hard [to find rhythm] but just the whole lead-up to this game I always was at hooker," Hingano said.

"At training and practicing our combinations I’ve been at hooker. I can’t say that I lost the skill at half, but I probably didn’t prepare myself to really play that in halves spot [against the Sharks].

"I believe so [I can make the most of the chance]. The team that we have will definitely allow me to do so, as well as Ricky as a coach. I definitely think I can be way better if I prepare and train at half all week leading into next week’s game.

"That’s one of the main reasons I came here and took the chance to come and play under Ricky. Being a half it’s a bonus for me to be able to be learning off one of the greats."

Hingano sought a release to join the Raiders when the New Zealand Warriors signed Blake Green months after the Tongan international was told he would get the first crack at partnering Shaun Johnson in the halves.

He knew he had a battle on his hands to stake a claim for a starting role with the likes of Aidan Sezer, Austin and Williams already on the roster.

But he is ready for the challenge and Hingano believes he already has a platform to build on after his first taste of being a chief playmaker for the Green Machine.

"I guess for me coming into the Raiders, it’s what I wanted to do, to be playing in the halves," Hingano said.

"I didn’t expect at first to be coming in to play half and then I got thrown into that role. It was good, the edge that I have was really encouraging was really encouraging.

"Something for me I have always wanted to improve on is my attacking game, so hopefully if I get the chance to play in the halves next week I can improve on that during the week."


Sunday: Canberra Raiders v St. George Illawarra Dragons at Glen Willow Stadium, 2pm. TV: Live on Fox League.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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