Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has dropped five-eighth Blake Austin the Raiders’ NRL clash with Manly.Ricky Stuart says individual performances are costing Canberra and Blake Austin has paid a price for their 0-3 start to the NRL season.
The Raiders coach concedes the former Dally M five-eighth of the year is not alone in his struggles, but he felt Austin needed to be dropped.
Former Warriors player Ata Hingano will make his Canberra debut after replacing Austin in the squad for Saturday’s clash with Manly at Lottoland.
Stuart said if things didn’t improve for the Raiders he would be forced to make further changes.
“I hate having to drop players because I know how important playing first grade is to everyone, I’ve always found it hard to drop people,” Stuart said on Friday.
“Unfortunately I’ve had to make that decision with Blake, but he’s got a few friends there at the moment.”
The Raiders are desperate to avoid losing the first four games of the season since the 1997 Super League when they recovered to make the preliminary final.
Their three defeat have been by a combined total of five points, with last Saturday’s horror show the worst of the bunch.
They were never behind against the Warriors until Shaun Johnson’s final field goal with 40 seconds left, ensuring it was Canberra’s 11th loss by six points or less since the start of 2017.
Stuart said he needed “tough people” to help the team turn the tide in tight matches.
“I’ve had every man and his dog telling me why we can’t win the close games, telling me we’re unfit and that we can’t hold onto leads, my opinion is it’s an individual thing.
“There’s poor choices being made, especially in defence and some poor choices when we need tough people to stand up.
“To win tight games, you need to be a tough person mentally and we need to be better in that area.”