Austin, Fensom to miss Raiders’ NRL trial

Canberra fans will have to wait until at least next month to see their new star halves in action, with Blake Austin to sit out the Raiders’ only pre-season trial match.

The 2015 Dally M five-eighth of year, still recovering from shoulder surgery, will miss Saturday’s clash with Newcastle in Orange, as will lock Shaun Fensom who is on the comeback from a broken arm.

“We’re just taking all the precautions we need,” coach Ricky Stuart said of Austin on Tuesday.

“I’m sure he’ll be available for game one.”

With Austin only just starting to return to full-contact at training, former Gold Coast Titan Aidan Sezer is expected to debut alongside incumbent halfback Sam Williams.

It means Stuart won’t get a chance to test his much-hyped new playmaking pair before the Raiders’ NRL season-opener against Penrith on March 5, but the club legend is far from worried.

“That was a decision I made. We could’ve had two, three trials and it would’ve helped the combination there around the halves,” he said.

“But in saying that, there’s a lot of football right throughout the year.

“I’m looking at their loads and their wellbeing in regards to where we’ll be around the middle of the season, not so much today.”

Doubt remains over whether Jack Wighton will play despite being included in the 27-man squad.

The fullback suffered a knock to the head in the Raiders’ NRL Auckland Nines campaign and was left feeling dazed.

Stuart said if he’s not 100 per cent by the end of the week, he’ll be rested.

There are no such concerns for new signings Adam Clydesdale, Elliott Whitehead, Jeff Lima and Zac Santo, who are all slated to play for the Raiders for the first time.

Stuart is planning to up the minutes of some of his bigger charges in preparation for the new interchange rules introduced for 2016 – including prop Shannon Boyd.

He believes the drop from 10 to eight changes will have a big impact.

“The concussion rule and an injury is going to put a team under a lot more pressure than a team that’s getting through a game without any,” he said.

Raiders trial squad: Kurt Baptiste, Mitchell Barnett, Luke Bateman, Shannon Boyd, Adam Clydsdale, Jarrod Croker, Lachlan Croker, Josh Hodgson, Jarrad Kennedy, Rhys Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Joey Leilua, Jeff Lima, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Kato Ottio, Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana, Zac Santo, Aidan Sezer, Sia Soliola, Paul Vaughan, Sisa Waqa, Elliott Whitehead, Jack Wighton, Jack Williams, Sam Williams.

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