Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin kicked a field goal against the Knights in Round 17.

Austin to have final say on return

Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin will have the final say on whether his broken hand has recovered in time for Canberra's semi-final clash with the Panthers on Saturday night.

Austin will be named in the No.6 jumper by coach Ricky Stuart but said it was too early in the week to tell whether he'd face his old Panthers side at GIO Stadium. 

The 25-year-old worked on gripping with his injured hand at training on Tuesday but said there were a few hoops he wants to jump through before confirming his place in the team.

"I'm really confident that I'm going to be out there. It'll just be about ticking the boxes and then making the call," Austin said. 

"It just needs to be a few things that I can gain plenty of assurance in and head into the game not worrying at all because if there is a bit of doubt there I certainly don't want to risk our season.  

"It's never going to stack up at training the way it does in a game I suppose but it's getting to the point now where it's a mental barrier: making sure I feel comfortable and ready to head into the game.

"Last week, I would've liked it to have been my say but it was probably a bit early in its recovery to leave it up to me. But as the weeks go by, it's just a matter of what I'm comfortable with and how much work I can get through."

 

 
Austin is hoping to guide the Raiders to their first ever preliminary final in the NRL era. 

The Raiders are the only team in the Telstra Premiership yet to make the final four since the competition's inception in 1998. 

In fact the other 15 NRL teams have featured in a preliminary final at some point over the past eight seasons.

"One thing we have spoken about is taking advantage of the opportunity that we have right now," Austin said.

"You never know what's going to happen in the future. Obviously we're all very confident that we're going to be playing again at this time of year over the next three to five seasons with the squad we're building. 

"But we want to take advantage now and that's what we're going to be trying to do this week."

If Austin fails to return from the injury that has kept him on the sidelines since Round 24 then Sam Williams will slot straight back in the halves alongside Aidan Sezer.

 

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