Austin, Hodgson to be named for semi-final
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will name both five-eighth Blake Austin and hooker Josh Hodgson for next weekend's do-or-die semi-final clash at GIO Stadium.
Hodgson looked to have seriously injured his ankle early in the second half in the Raiders' upset 16-14 loss to the Sharks.
What proved to be the turning point of the game, with the Raiders up 12-6 at the time, the Sharks eventually pegged back the scoreline thanks to James Maloney's penalty goal four minutes from full-time.
"He's crook," Stuart said of Hodgson.
"I don't know how crook. We have to get scans and that but I'll name him to play next week. But he's very doubtful."
Austin last played in Round 24 following a training mishap where he broke his hand.
Stuart said he'll name Austin for next weekend's finals clash to play either the Panthers or Bulldogs.
Though he admitted it was namely to get the media off his back about his five-eighth's health.
"I'll name him for you all this week so that you can stop me asking me that question," Stuart said.
"I'll make a decision at the back-end of the next week. I understand it's a very important decision and selection so I'll name him in the No. 6 jumper and I'll let everyone know as soon as I know.
"I won't be trying to hide whether he's going to play or not. There will be no ducks or drakes over whether he'll be medically fit to play."
Sam Williams – the man who would make way for Austin if he proves his fitness – was nonplussed over whether Austin's possible inclusion would influence his preparation for next weekend.
"We work with all different combinations throughout the year and even the pre-season before that," Williams said.
"It's just about being focused and if anyone is called up that they're ready to go. We're confident we can do the job if we play good footy."
Positively for the Raiders, they will play again at GIO Stadium next weekend which Williams was more than excited about.
"It's one of the best atmospheres in the game. I think when our stadium is full and the support is there, it's brilliant," Williams said.
"Being back here again, everyone will be pretty keen to go out there and rectify what happened."
On the 25,000-strong crowd who turned up on Saturday night, Stuart added: "Win, lose or draw, it was a wonderful occasion.
"The experience they gain out of that is invaluable for their futures because this won't be the only semis we're in over the next three or four years.
"We'll be in a lot of them. Getting as much experience in them now is really important for our short-term future."