He may only be relatively new to the club himself but Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin has given one-game rookie Mitch Barnett a glowing appraisal following his debut against the Wests Tigers on Monday night.
Running for 125 metres and making 23 tackles in his debut, Barnett put forward a good first impression in an otherwise disappointing 20-18 loss to the Wests Tigers – something Austin felt partly responsible for.
"We were all really excited for Mitch and we were all equally disappointed we couldn't make it a better night for him. We really wanted to make it a special night but we weren't able to do that," Austin said.
"We all know what Mitch is capable of – he's a great, tough kid, a hard worker and very honest and that's why we were all so excited for him to finally get his chance. He's had to wait so long but Mitch has a big future for sure."
Trusted by coach Ricky Stuart to start instead of Jarrad Kennedy, Barnett described his nervousness after being told of his debut, though was thankful for the calming influence of the Raiders' coaching staff, Austin and his parents.
"I've worked real hard and tried my best to earn the step up. I've taken it now so I just need to keep up the hard work and keep my spot," Barnett said.
"I was nervous as I've ever been. I didn't know what to expect out there and everyone was telling me how fast it was going to be, but once I was out there and got an early touch I was sweet.
"It was that fast and one of the toughest games I've ever had to play. I enjoyed myself out there, unfortunate not to get the result we wanted, but we're hopeful to bounce back."
Meanwhile Austin is keen to right the wrongs of their loss to the Tigers against the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon – a team who have beaten the ladder-leading Broncos and reigning premiers South Sydney in their past two games.
"They have been a powerhouse for 10 years now Manly and you're going to be in for a game every time you play them and it doesn't help they're hitting the form they are but what an opportunity we have," Austin said.
"To lose the way we did [against Tigers] was very disappointing. The most disheartening factor was we beat ourselves and we shot ourselves in the foot too many times and you can't do that this level."