Raiders teammate backs axed ace Austin to return
JOSH Papalii has backed Canberra teammate Blake Austin to bounce back from his axing from the NRL team.
Former Dally M five-eighth of the year Austin was omitted from the winless Raiders' 17 for Saturday night's Round 4 meeting with Manly at Lottoland.
Former Warriors half Ata Hingano will make his debut for the Raiders from the interchange bench, after linking up with Ricky Stuart's side less than two weeks before the start of the season.
Papalii said Austin had taken the news well, especially given he was a chance to be a late inclusion.
Aidan Sezer and Sia Soliola have been named in the run-on side but enter the match under injury clouds.
Sezer suffered a back injury in the 20-19 defeat to the Warriors on Saturday, while Soliola has been managing an ankle issue.
Stuart is giving the pair every chance to prove their fitness. Forward Joe Tapine is poised to make his return off the bench after two weeks out with a dislocated thumb.
Whatever team Canberra goes with, Papalii said he expected the Raiders to come out firing after starting the campaign 0-3 for the first time since 2009.
The Raiders haven't lost their first four games of the season since the 1997 Super League when they recovered to make the preliminary final.
"He'll be all right because I know Blake as a player and a person, so he'll bounce back pretty quick," Papalii said on Wednesday.
"(Ata) had a really strong World Cup campaign for Tonga and I know when someone's gone out of our team, we've always had someone step up and play well."