Leeds are well in the play-off hunt even though at one stage that looked unlikely.
In fact, the Rhinos looked set for a relegation scrap which is the position their opponents on Friday night Warrington Wolves have only just hauled themselves out of with a win last week against bottom club Toulouse.
Now safe, their visit to Headingley is no less important with Leeds needing a win to ensure they keep their spot in the top six as the season draws to a close.
A big game, it’s even bigger due to the history between the two sides. They met in the 2012 Grand Final after all.
Furthermore, many current Leeds stars are former Warrington men such as Richie Myler and Brad Dwyer, but their most recent signing from the Wire is Blake Austin.
The stand-off could have made his debut against Warrington in Round One but missed the game with a ban. He did however star in Leeds’ 40-4 win over the Wolves away from home and will be looking for a repeat of that result come Friday night.
But just why did Austin leave the Halliwell Jones for Headingley. Well, in an exclusive interview with Serious About Rugby League he explained that there was interest from other Super League clubs as well as why he chose the Rhinos despite this.
“Yeah there were [other Super League clubs interested],” Austin revealed, “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 staying at Warrington wasn’t on the table with no new contract offer on the table and no communication from incoming boss Daryl Powell who took the reigns ahead of 2022 after Steve Price’s departure.
“No it wasn’t [an option to stay at Warrington] they didn’t offer me anything,” Austin said, “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.”
He also noted that the move doesn’t offer any extra motivation for him ahead of Friday’s game: “I’ve been playing for 10 years, I’ve moved clubs for or five times, I don’t really need motivation like that. I enjoy the game regardless and compete as hard as I can no matter who is in front of me.”
Nonetheless, Austin still has fond feelings towards the Wolves: “It was my first experience in this country and I still have some lifelong friends there that I’ll be enjoying to come up against but I certainly enjoyed my time there.”
Despite this, he’s very excited to get on the field on Friday even though he’ll be up against some of his friends as he continues his return from injury wanting to play a key role in the end of Leeds’ season: “I’ve missed six weeks and I’m hoping to get a run of games as we head into the back end of the year.”