Mummy's boy Austin has no regrets over move
Penciled in as the heir apparent to Terry Campese's vacant five-eighth jersey, livewire Canberra Raiders recruit Blake Austin said he has no regrets about relocating to the nation's capital despite moving away from his parents.
As Sam Williams and Mitch Cornish continue fighting it out to partner Austin in the halves for Canberra's Round 1 clash against Cronulla, the 24-year-old former Tiger and Panther has been able to settle into his new surroundings while preparing for the long season ahead.
Even if it means he can't see his mum as much as he'd like.
"I didn't really have any dramas about coming here and I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think there were any good times to come. I wasn't from the beaches in Sydney anyway; I was out at Penrith which is pretty similar," Austin told NRL.com.
"The biggest challenge for me was being away from my mum and dad.
"I'm definitely more relaxed though. My kids love it. My boy gets to ride his bike everyday so everything is going pretty smoothly right now.
"My missus loves being down here too actually. She was probably keener to move down here than me at the start because I'm a mummy's boy and didn't want to leave but she wanted us to get out on our own two feet so it's all going pretty good."
Now a few hours away from Sydney, Austin is set to thrive in the quieter conditions of his new home.
Yet to be recognised on the streets, Austin worked out pretty quickly that Canberra is nothing like Sydney's rugby league cauldron.
"Coming from the Tigers you notice everywhere you went that somebody was wearing a Tigers hat or a shirt because they have a pretty big following. But people down here haven't really noticed me and it could be because people are a lot nicer here in Canberra," Austin said.
"I mean, my neighbours wave at me. My family and I went away at Christmas and the neighbours checked in and asked if we wanted our bins taken out and stuff like that so generally I think people are a bit nicer."
On the paddock though, Austin isn't buying into the idea that he's guaranteed a first-grade spot, insisting he is still fighting for an NRL berth after making a mere 35 appearances across his four years in the top grade.
After a breakout season at the Tigers where he scored seven tries, set up three others and made 56 tackle breaks, Austin left the club to focus on earning his preferred five-eighth spot after being used mostly off the bench or at fullback and centre over the past 12 months.
Not keen to get ahead of himself, Austin remained excited to bounce ideas around with halves rivals Williams and Cornish as well as continuing to learn from coach Ricky Stuart – himself a legendary Raiders halfback.
"There are things I do well; there are things Sam does well and little things Mitch does well which we can't do either. Mitch is a left-foot kicker whereas Sammy and I are right-foot kickers. Sammy has a real controlled kicking game which he can hopefully keep helping me out with," Austin said.
"The challenge though is to continue learning off them while also beginning to learn how to play together. That's going to be the next challenge. Ricky gets involved with everything we do too. He has plenty of knowledge which he is more than happy to pass on and we're more than willing to listen.
"I can see that a regular NRL spot is definitely within my reach, it's just up to me now and once I do get a chance, I plan on holding onto it."