Canberra’s horror run of early-season injuries continues, with NRL star Blake Austin rejoining their big-name casualty ward barely a fortnight after his return.
The five-eighth will miss at least two matches due to a hamstring complaint: he’ll sit out Sunday’s clash with Cronulla at GIO Stadium and next week’s battle with Wests Tigers, also at home.
Sam Williams will replace him at No.6, and will partner Aidan Sezer in the halves for the first time this season.
It’s the second time in 2016 Austin has been sidelined through injury. He missed three weeks due to a knee ligament strain he suffered in round one.
Austin also spent the pre-season recovering from major shoulder surgery.
“He has had a slight hamstring problem in recent times and it’s just got a little bit worse. There’s a slight tear there,” coach Ricky Stuart told Fairfax Media.
“From what we’ve been told. The early diagnosis is two weeks.
“This challenge will only make us stronger, and we’re very fortunate to have Sammy Williams slot straight back in.”
Austin’s name has been added to a growing injury list at the Raiders, which is headed by Sia Soliola (arm) and Jeff Lima (hand), who are out for several weeks.
Prop Paul Vaughan and hooker Josh Hodgson also remain in doubt for the match against the fourth-placed Sharks.
Vaughan sprained his ankle in the club’s last-start loss to Parramatta, while Hodgson copped knocks to his knee and thumb in the same fixture.
Both trained well with the squad on Friday and will be assessed on Saturday.
Stuart said he wouldn’t risk either of them if they weren’t 100 per cent.
“It’s a bit of a casualty ward at the moment but I’m hoping they’ll be OK,” he said.
“It’ll just keep building the character in the club and we have to handle the disruptions the best way we possibly can, and that’s by giving opportunities to other players.”
Austin, who spoke to the media before being ruled out on Friday, hoped Hodgson and Vaughan would be cleared to play.
“Anyone who knows Hodgson knows it would take a bit to keep him out of a match, and Vaughany will be doing everything he can to play as well,” he said.