CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Blake Austin of the Raiders passes during the round three NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the New Zealand Warriors at GIO Stadium on March 24, 2018 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Canberra are gearing themselves up for life without five-eighth Blake Austin, with the Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland admitting it’s likely Austin won’t return in 2019.

Austin has been with Canberra for the last four years, but remains out of contract at season’s end, after rejecting a deal last season.

Both parties are still yet to agree on a deal for next season, and Mulholland told ABC radio on Saturday the Raiders have moved on from negotiations, although he didn’t close the door on Austin completely.

“At this stage probably not I’d say. We’re just looking at options,” Mulholland said on air on Saturday.

“Blake had an offer on the table last year and he rejected that offer, and as in the game you’ve got to move on and unfortunately he didn’t take the offer up last year and we’ve moved on, basically.

“We’ve got some [space] in the salary cap, but not the amount that Blake would be requiring to stay at this stage.

“Things can change. He’s obviously been looking around for a period of time and if circumstances change within our cap over the next month or two then there may be an option there.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it works with the salary cap. Everybody can’t keep everybody, it’s just a fact of life.”

The Raiders have already lost Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo, although the signatures of Josh Papalii and Aidan Sezer will have certainly softened the blow.

Austin has been linked to the Eels, Rabbioths and Storm, although South Sydney and Melbourne are said to not be interested in the 27-year-old.

A move to the Super League is also an option, with Leeds Rhinos reportedly eying his services.

Austin has played 78 of his 112 NRL games for Canberra, scoring 32 tries during his four years at the Green Machine.

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