Canberra Raiders playmaker Blake Austin has paid tribute to close mate Aidan Sezer for his willingness to put the team first early in the season.
Sezer has been named to come off the bench in the utility role for round two against the Newcastle Knights. He was shifted to the interchange in round one at the last minute after being named at halfback.
The switch did not faze the 26-year-old, who racked up 25 tackles on top of five dummy-half runs in the 30-28 loss to the Gold Coast Titans.
"It's a tough situation as his mate, obviously it's not always easy to find the words to say to him," Austin said of Sezer.
"He's had a really good pre-season and trained his backside off, and he was really excited to start in the No.7.
"To Aidan's credit he's playing a role that's foreign to him but anybody who watched him on the weekend he certainly went out and had a crack and put his body in front of some big boys."
Match: Raiders v Knights
Round 2 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Austin kept his cards closer to his chest as to whether coach Ricky Stuart had any late surprises in store this Sunday, when the Raiders face a Knights side full of confidence after their golden-point win over Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
"I plan to start. I get to wear the No.6 this week, but you know you can’t expect to be in the position you're named in on the team sheet," he said.
Nobody in the Telstra Premiership is more acutely aware of Canberra's bad run of failing to finish games than the players themselves.
Regardless, an extra-long video session on Tuesday rammed home the point that ball security and unforced errors could again cruel the side's chances this weekend if they aren't addressed.
"Unfortunately, we let a couple of errors creep in and lost the possession stat again and that's how the game turned out," Austin said.
"We spoke about the possession not being an excuse, we've got an attitude this year that no matter what our defence needs to be stiff and solid."
The molehill facing the Raiders after half-time in round one quickly became a mountain.
Between the 40th and 60th minute, the Titans had control of a staggering 80% of possession as their 12-point lead at the break evaporated.
"The second half we probably started too slow and allowed them (Titans) to get the upper hand," Austin said.
"We probably could have put things to be if we came out with a bit more vigour, but to our credit we managed to hang tough and got back in front with five or six minutes to go.
"But we've got to close those games out, tucking the ball under our wing and finishing where we need to be finishing our sets."
Charlie Gubb will make his Raiders debut off the bench after switching from the Warriors.
The 27-year-old forward has made an impact at the club in the off-season.
"I'm just really excited to get out there. I really wanted to play against the Titans, but I've got my opportunity because of Joe Tapine's misfortune," Gubb said.
It's a big week in the Gubb household, with Charlie's wife Charlene making her debut for the ACT Brumbies on Saturday night.
"I think we get in for free with our Raiders members, I think I'll take all six (seats) and have a lie down," Gubb joked.