Austin set to play in crucial clash with Dragons
Canberra five-eighth Blake Austin looks set to make an amazing turnaround in time to play the St George Illawarra at Mudgee on Sunday.
Austin looked at long odds of playing in round 11 after suffering an ankle sprain as he scored a try in their loss to Cronulla at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
However, he trained on Thursday morning is likely to take his place in the run-on side in what is a huge boost to the team, which lost its direction when he came from the field in the 31st minute against the Sharks.
The turnaround for Austin echoes one Joey Leilua underwent against Newcastle earlier this season.
"I think Austo is doing the same thing I did in week two," Leilua said.
"He'll be alright, but whoever comes into the team will do a good job."
After suffering a winless month to start the season, it goes without saying every game is a vital one for the Raiders for the remainder of the season.
After four wins in five games, teams in the top eight started to look over their shoulder at the Raiders, who were showing why they can be one of the exciting attacking powerhouses in the Telstra Premiership.
However, poor ball-handling, penalties and other ill-disciplined play crept back into their performance as they were run down by an understrength Cronulla side.
Winger Jordan Rapana said a win over the Dragons would put the Raiders back on track in their aim of making the top eight.
"Dragons are a solid team, they've been going well so we've just got to prepare to and be ready and make sure we bring it on the day," Rapana said.
"They're a solid team from their backline to their forwards. James Graham's been an awesome signing for them, he brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm and that goes through the whole side.
"We've got to be more consistent rather than win, loss, win, loss but I've got a lot of confidence we can do that."
The club's forward stocks in 2019 took a hit this week, with the news Shannon Boyd would join Gold Coast on a lucrative four-year deal.
Rapana said Boyd told the team of his decision earlier this week but vowed to push hard through to the finish line in the nation's capital.
"He obviously loves it here, this is home for him, but this is part of our job (players leaving)," Rapana said.
"He'll obviously be missed but he said he's going to give us everything for the remainder of the year which I know he will.
"But good on him, he's a good player and a good bloke so I'm happy for him."