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Blake Austin calls out Leeds Rhinos over player treatment

Blake Austin had a turbulent spell at the Leeds Rhinos, which was marked by both highs and lows. Austin was part of the Rhinos side that made the 2022 Super League Grand Final, in Rohan Smith’s first season in charge. However, he left the club in acrimonious circumstances mid-way through the 2023 season.

Austin revealed that his exit was prompted by a dispute over his contract, in which Smith offered him a new deal, before stating he was re-considering. However, Austin has now revealed that the treatment of one of his teammates was also influential in his decision to leave the Rhinos.

Austin has called the club out in a wide-ranging post on his Instagram page. Austin referred to the departure of Rhinos forward, Zane Tetevano, without naming him specifically. He believes that the Rhinos’ behaviour is not acceptable for a club of its stature. Tetevano has since returned to the NRL, currently representing the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Quiz: Can you name all these former Leeds Rhinos players?

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Austin calls out Leeds Rhinos for their treatment of a teammate

Leeds Rhinos Zane Tetevano

Credit: Imago Images

Tetevano suffered a serious medical situation during his time at Leeds. He suffered a stroke on the training ground and subsequently required heart surgery to fix a hole in his heart. Austin has now revealed that members of the Rhinos squad were unhappy with the support that Tetevano was offered by the club,

“I think we had one of our overseas signings suffer a really, really traumatic, life-threatening medical episode. I think as a playing group we were pretty upset with the way he was treated on the back of that. They didn’t offer him full support, and I say full support, I guess you could say they offered him 50% support. I guess you can piece together what that means.

“But there was a real, you know, there was a real, the line from the club that they weren’t really obligated to help him at all and they tried to sell it like he was lucky that they helped him at all. That was hard to take as a playing group.

“We didn’t really get much support from the coaches on that either so that was really disappointing. We could have done more as a playing group in the end, but we certainly raised our concerns and as a group we were pretty upset with how that was dealt with.”

Issues run beyond financial support

Leeds Rhinos

Credit: imago Images

Austin expressed his disappointment at the way Tetevano was treated in the final year of his contract. However, he also revealed that the issues at Leeds Rhinos run deeper than simply financial support. Austin also pinpointed issues around the way players’ families are treated.

“We felt like this guy was at the end of a three-year deal, an overseas guy, and for the club to sort of tell us that they’re under no obligations to fully help him, like I’m saying fully because they did help him, but the issues that he was faced with we would have loved to have for him to have received more support. So, that was another thing that was pretty hard to take.”

“Look, Leeds is a really big club but are they known for really going out of their way to look after players?

“And, obviously, financially is the first thing you’re going to think of, but for such a big strong club there’s certainly an opportunity for them to be a lot more accommodating and look after their players in better ways. That’s not just money, that’s many other ways. How they treat the boys on game days, where they sit the families, things like that.”

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