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Blake Austin was Maddison Hayes’ favourite current player leading into last Sunday’s match against the Gold Coast Titans. Of the current crop of Raiders, a few came close to Austin in the five year old's book, but nobody surpassed him. Not Captain Jarrod Croker, nor mid-season recruit Joseph Leilua.

And it is doubtful now that Austin will ever lose that mantle, not due to his obvious footballing talent, but due to a selfless act of kindness that came well after the full-time siren had sounded.

Maddison and her parents Gavin and Erin, brother Jax and sister Chelsea, all moved from Canberra to Brisbane two and a half years ago. Whilst their post code changed, the family’s love for the Raiders has remained ever so strong.

What their change in post codes did entail though is that the Hayes family can no longer go to every game at GIO Stadium throughout the year, only the games in Brisbane or the Gold Coast.

As there were no games against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in 2015 that meant the sole opportunity to witness their beloved Raiders came in Round 24 against the Titans at CBUS Super Stadium.

“We only get to go to one game per year now which is a shame,” father Gavin Hayes said. “We used to live in Canberra so we went to every game but due to her age Maddi never got to go to a game in Canberra but she’s been brainwashed by Dad so she is a passionate Raiders fan.

“She was really excited to watch the Raiders play for the first time and especially to see Blake Austin. She pointed him out from the kick-off.

“I think it’s his look that drew him to Maddi because he’s pretty unique and a cool looking guy. She’s also heard her Dad screaming out his name watching on TV, most likely cheering following one of his great tries this year.

“Maddi, Jax and Chelsea all know the team song as well so they were both looking forward to the game immensely.”

Unfortunately, a disappointing display from the Raiders meant that there would be no team song sung after going down to the Titans 28-12.

On the plus side though, the Hayes clan got to meet their favourite Raiders players as the side went around the stadium to thank their fans.

Maddi got to meet several players, albeit for Blake Austin, who after being tied up with media commitments unfortunately missed his young fan after he hurriedly made his way around the ground to see as many fans as he could.

Players such as Leilua and Croker tried to cheer Maddi up but alas, they were no Austin.

“My son Jax got a photo with Blake but Maddi was pretty inconsolable because she didn’t get to see Blake because he had already made his way onto the other fans,” Gavin said. “BJ got a photo and was really good with Maddi but unfortunately he was no Blake in Maddi's eyes.

“The next day I put the photos up on Instagram because it was a great day despite the loss. I tagged Blake in the photo and then he astonishingly sent a personal video to Maddi via Instagram which really shocked me as I didn’t really expect a response.

{See Austin's message in the video at the top of the artilce}

“My wife and I were sitting on the couch and Maddi was asleep in bed and we woke her up and showed her straight away. She was astonished and we couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. A few days have passed now but she keeps asking to watch the video over and over again.

“Blake will be her favourite player for a long time to come and a Raiders fan for life. He did it off his own back and he should get recognition for it because that’s not what he was after.

“We weren’t really expecting the players to go around and shake the majority of the fan's hands let alone what Blake did. After you get that one-on-one experience you realise that sometimes you can be too harsh on the players sometimes following a loss. You sort of forget about the loss when that sort of stuff happens.”

Sometimes Rugby League can be a whole lot more than just a result.

See you at GIO Stadium on Monday as we take on the Penrith Panthers in our last home match of 2015.

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets!


Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.