Wests Tigers might be seriously regretting their decision to let Blake Austin go as he sky-rockets towards success. The young Canberra Raiders’ 5/8 has been lighting up the NRL with his quick ball running skills and has been instrumental in his team’s recent victories. His skill was even enough to win him a position in the City vs. Country game where he scored a hat-trick. Even former rugby league great, Brad Fittler, has suggested that Austin should be selected for the NSW Blues State of Origin team.

So what is the source of this man’s power? It could be that he grew the most incredible beard and hair combo of the century. In a world where rugby league stars spend more time on their hair than the cheerleaders do, Blake Austin has risen above the pack to unleash his monstrosity of a cut upon the world. The best part is that it has coincided with his success in the NRL; as his fur has grown, so have his rugby league abilities.

It is more likely that a change of scenery has had a bigger impact on his career. The young utility was released from the Tigers squad at the end of 2014 as he had failed to cement a position in the team throughout the year. His performance towards the end of the 2014 season was actually quite impressive and similar to his performance from this year however the emergence of the teams’ touted future stars, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses, took focus away from him and made it difficult to establish himself as a starting half in the NRL. He never got a solid chance until Ricky Stewart decided to give him a whirl in the Green Machine and Austin grabbed that chance and ran with it, scoring many tries along the way.

Austin’s significant statistics from the NRL so far this year are:

– 9 games played
– 5 tries
– 4 try assists
– 8 line breaks
– 3 line break assists
– 32 tackle busts

He has evidently had a huge impact in the NRL this year so far and the praise that he has received is well deserved. However, one factor that people are forgetting is the impact of Sam Williams on the Raiders. Since Williams became their number 7 the Raiders have won 4 of their 5 games. He has brought a brilliant kicking game to the table which the team had been lacking and has also relieved a lot of pressure from Austin by taking more play-making responsibilities and more carries. This allows Austin to focus more on making a better impact with each time he touches the ball. The Raiders received a big blow over the weekend when Sam Williams was admitted to hospital with a collapsed lung. Fortunately the Raiders have released the news that he has since been released from hospital and the injury is not expected to be long term.

The team will be tested this weekend when they come up against competition heavyweights, the Dragons. There have been rumours that if Austin performs well in this game he will make the Blues Origin Team however I am not sure if this will be as a starting half or a utility. Regardless of what happens, this fella has certainly made a name for himself.