Coach 'thought it was a wind up' as Leeds Rhinos stand-off Blake Austin joins Castleford Tigers

Shocked coach Andy Last “thought it was a wind up” when told Castleford Tigers might be able to sign Blake Austin from Leeds Rhinos.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Austin, whose Rhinos contract expires in November, today (Thursday) joined Tigers on loan until the end of this season

The 32-year-old’s move came too late for him to feature against Huddersfield Giants on Friday and he is expected to make his debut in the relegation four-pointer at Wakefield Trinity two weeks later.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Austin signed for Rhinos from Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2022 season and scored four tries and a drop goal in 41 games for the club.

Blake Austin passes during Rhinos' Magic Weekend defeat by Castleford in June. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.Blake Austin passes during Rhinos' Magic Weekend defeat by Castleford in June. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Blake Austin passes during Rhinos' Magic Weekend defeat by Castleford in June. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

The Australian-born former Great Britain tourist was Betfred Super League’s player of the month in June, after successive Sky TV man of the match awards in wins over Huddersfield Giants and Warrington.

He made no secret of the fact he was keen to remain at Leeds beyond this year and there had been discussions between his agent and the club, so the loan move came out of the blue - and Last was as surprised as anyone.

“This started to happen around about 9pm yesterday,” Last said at his weekly preview press conference today.

Read More
Read more: Leeds Rhinos blow as Richie Myler injury confirmed
Blake Austin in action for Rhinos against Hull in February. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Blake Austin in action for Rhinos against Hull in February. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Blake Austin in action for Rhinos against Hull in February. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I got a call saying there may be a possibility of getting Blake at Castleford. We did a little bit of work last night and managed to get the deal done, which is absolutely fantastic news for us.

“He could be a real key addition to us; he is a maverick, he is someone who can win games single-handedly and I think he will really help us as a team.”

Tigers are second from bottom of Betfred Super League, with only points difference separating them from 12th-placed Wakefield.

Last admitted he was “shocked” when he heard Austin was available. He said: “When I got the message I was thinking ‘no, it’s a wind up, surely not’.

Castleford coach Andy Last. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.Castleford coach Andy Last. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Castleford coach Andy Last. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When things happened, I got his number and we had a bit of a chat. I mentioned the opportunity to come here and help us stave off the threat of relegation and get some good performances and get some wins; be that x-factor player he has been for Leeds and Warrington and Canberra.

“He said ‘it sounds good’ and to get somebody of his quality at this time of the year is absolutely fantastic and a brilliant bit of work by the club. I am so pleased to have him on board.”

Austin’s addition comes days after stand-off Riley Dean was recalled from his loan at Castleford by parent club Warrington.

Last, meanwhile, confirmed broken arm victim Paul McShane is “unlikely” to play again this year.