Sezer doesn't miss a beat with new partner
Canberra playmaker Aidan Sezer says even though his role may have changed a little with controlling half Sam Williams replacing dynamic runner Blake Austin, the fact Raiders player knows their roles so well has allowed the team to not miss a beat.
The Raiders were dealt a seemingly savage blow a fortnight ago when it was revealed a broken hand suffered at training would rule out five-eighth Austin for close to the rest of the year.
Canberra did have the luxury of recalling an NRL-calibre half – who had been in great form in the Intrust Super Premiership for feeder club Mounties – in Sam Williams.
"Hats off to the coaching staff, they've built well over the last couple of years," Sezer told NRL.com.
"When you get a player like Austo, his X-factor he brings to the team, when he's out you're definitely going to miss something.
"But I think Sammy's done a great job and he's really played to his strengths. I guess he's taken on a bit of ownership there with controlling the team and he's helping me out along with 'Hodgy' [hooker Josh Hodgson].
"I think we're all just doing our role, everyone knows their job. That's the biggest thing. No-one's above the team. Everyone just knows their role. The transition for Sammy coming up from NSW Cup, he's taken it with two hands, he's a quality player and he's good to play alongside."
There is no question Williams and Austin are very different players with different styles, and the change has meant an adaptation to Sezer's role, but the team itself seems not to have missed a beat.
In Rounds 23 and 24 with Austin in the side, Sezer ran just eight times for just 55 metres. While he worked his way into it alongside Williams in Round 25 against Manly with three runs for 25 metres he made a clear decision to challenge the line against Wests Tigers in Round 26 and came up with eight runs for 95 metres.
"I just sort of worry about my role. We work in tandem us halves out there and you've got to have that selflessness and be a team player," Sezer said.
"I'm happy to do my role for the team and I guess it opens me up to run a bit more because I can play as a second receiver a bit so it's enjoyable."
The value of Hodgson has been clear to see as the Dally M hopeful has controlled Canberra's attack and defence masterfully in their surge to a second-place finish and a club-record 688 points.
"If the middle is vulnerable he maximises that and we saw it [against the Tigers], two try assists one try, he's a classy player and he deserves to have the accolades he's getting this year," Sezer said.
Of the club's point-scoring record, Sezer noted the 2016 Raiders aren't a side that relies too much on set plays.
"We run the ball hard and we play what we see and we've got players on the edge like 'BJ' and 'Rapa' (Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana), they've been outstanding all year and on the left edge alongside me we've got 'Papa' and 'Toots' (Josh Papalii and Jarrod Croker) and Ed Lee.
"We just play what we see; hopefully we can go into the finals and play without fear."
Like his teammates, Sezer was glad to be able to open the club's finals campaign in front of a passionate home crowd in what is quickly turning into a sell-out at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
"It's always great playing at home and we don't have to go on the road again, we've been on the road a couple of weeks and it will be good to get back home to Canberra and rest up and get ourselves ready for a home semi," Sezer said.
"We'll be relishing the opportunity to play in front of our home fans again and they've been great all year. Hopefully we can get a sellout down there."