Leeds-Warrington is a game that doesn’t need any extra plot lines.
They’ve contested three major finals in the Super League era including one Grand Final a decade ago and there has been a lot of crossover between the legends of both clubs such as Adrian Morley and Tony Smith.
Even nowadays, there seems to be constant pathway between the two such as Richie Myler and Brad Dwyer in recent years, but the latest to swap primrose and blue for blue and amber was Blake Austin who left the Halliwell Jones Stadium to travel down the M62 to move to Headingley last year.
Friday’s game will see him come up against the Wolves for a second time this season but it was very nearly so very different.
The fixture could have been just a run of the mill game to Austin rather than a battle against his former side had history panned out slightly differently.
The stand-off made his Warrington debut in 2019 against Leeds as the Wolves won 26-6 but he could have been on the other side that day with Austin confirming that there had been interest from Leeds ahead of the 2019 Super League campaign as was rumoured at the time.
In an exclusive interview, Austin confirmed this but also explained why he chose Warrington ahead of the Rhinos back then: “There was at the time, obviously Warrington were a bit more friendly with the chequebook which made the move a bit more easy but there was certainly some interest from Leeds yeah.”
He also explained how his move to Leeds came about: “Yeah there were [other Super League clubs interested] but the main thing for me was to be at a big club and there’s not many bigger than Leeds. So, when the opportunity comes to play for Leeds it doesn’t take much to think about.
“I’m really happy to be here.”
He also revealed that it wasn’t an option to stay at Warrington with no offer made by new boss Daryl Powell: “No it wasn’t [an option to stay at Warrington] they didn’t offer me anything, I didn’t have any communication with Daryl Powell which was disappointing at the time but now really excited to be at Headingley such a first class club with great facilities and people.”
Austin signed a one-year deal when he joined the Rhinos, but has already signed an extension to keep him at Headingley for 2023.
On this, Austin noted he was happy to have one year deals at this stage of his career: “Me personally I’m at an age where I’m really comfortable with the one-year deal so I can make sure I’m pushing myself and enjoying my rugby.
“To stay another year is great. It’s such a big proud club, when I signed [the one year extension] I said I wanted to give the fans the chance to see me in a better light and I think I’m working towards that and hopefully it’ll be a big finish to the year.”