Canberra’s surge to the NRL finals has suffered a possible setback after star Blake Austin came off with a shoulder injury in the side’s strong win over Cronulla on Saturday.
Austin landed awkwardly on the controversial tryscoring play that sealed victory over the Sharks and immediately came from the field clutching his right shoulder.
Referee Ashley Klein had ruled Austin committed a double movement however was the decision was overturned when the bunker found two Sharks defenders had contributed to pushing the Raiders pivot over the line.
“The physios were trying to get a gauge on how I was feeling but I was too busy on letting the ref know that there was plenty of momentum and I was always going to make it into the in-goal,” Austin said.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will now be sweating on scans on his key playmaker, however Austin is hopeful he will be able to take the field in next week’s blockbuster against Melbourne.
“I’m told it’s a possible rotator cuff. Hopefully it’s the sort of thing I can manage and get me through until the end of the season,” Austin told AAP.
“It’s the same shoulder I injured last year. Different injury, certainly not as serious. It’s about being professional about it and managing it through the season.
“I’m pretty optimistic I’ll be able to play through it. I’d love to be facing the Storm next week.”
The injured soured the victory for the Raiders, who ended a 16-game unbeaten run for the Sharks that began all the way back in round three.
Austin described the effort as their best of the year, but played down talk of being a title contender.
“We can’t look at it like that,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of talk about us believing the hype and buying into it but we can’t do that yet because we’re not happy with the footy we’re playing. I think we can get a lot better.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was quick to point out the Sharks were without veteran Michael Ennis and coming off a five-day turnaround, before labelling the Storm as the benchmark of the league.
“Melbourne are the best team in the comp. We’re up against a really tough team next week. I reckon they’re the benchmark,” he said.