Blake Austin of the Raiders.
Blake Austin of the Raiders. PAUL MILLER

Raiders no one-man team, says coach Stuart

COACH Ricky Stuart was putting on a brave face after Canberra's x-factor, Blake Austin, suffered a hand injury at training that will require the five-eighth to undergo surgery.

The incident happened during a defensive training drill, according to the Raiders.

The club reported that Austin (right) would be out for an "indefinite period” adding "which could be for the rest of the season”.

But depending on the extent of Austin's hand injury there is still a remote chance with the help of a protective guard and injections and strapping he could play within three to four weeks if the Raiders are still alive.

It's a tough break for Austin, who along with halfback Aidan Sezer, has been firing behind a Raiders pack which stepped up in recent weeks.

Stuart conceded losing Austin was a blow, but he was confident replacement No.6 Sam Williams would rise to the challenge starting in tomorrow's clash against Manly at Brookvale Oval.

"It was a very simple accident and very unfortunate for Blake,” Stuart said. "As I said last week, we are not a one-man team and Sam Williams will come into the team now and we know he'll do a great job for us.”

"This will challenge us and everybody has to buy in and assist in picking up the slack.”

Given Canberra should still account for Manly and the Wests Tigers in their final two games and hang onto third spot bookmakers have not over-reacted.

Sportsbet's Christian Jantzen said it was "uncertain” how long Austin would be sidelined and with the possibility of him playing if Canberra advances to the qualifying finals the Raiders had not drifted much.

"They're out from $6 to $6.50 for the premiership and have eased from $1.35 to $1.45 against Manly,” Jantzen told Australian Regional Media.

Canberra crashed the top four with wins in their past six starts with an attacking style of football which can trouble any rival.

In their climb up the ladder they have beaten Melbourne (1st) Cronulla (2nd), Cowboys (5th) and Titans (8th) with a hot stretch of wins that fans thinking about the club's first grand final since 1994.

WAYNE HEMING



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