Gary Hetherington breaks silence on Blake Austin’s transfer

Blake Austin has made the switch from Leeds Rhinos to link up with Castleford Tigers until the end of the season with both clubs confirming the shock news just before midday.

It’s a move that caught most by surprise with Austin having picked up form lately in a bid to try and earn another deal at Headingley, some of his most recent performances being stand out and at a level a patch above most halves in the competition.

The infrequency of those performances has frustrated Rhinos fans during his time at the club and is perhaps why he hasn’t been offered a contract for 2024 and beyond, and with this move now confirmed it would seem his days with the Rhinos are likely over.

When announcing the deal the Headingley club revealed that it was Austin who had requested the move, opting to join a relegation threatened Castleford side rather than chase the playoffs with Leeds.

The club also made an announcement on their website, with club Chief Executive Gary Hetherington adding comments.

“Leeds Rhinos have agreed to a request to release Blake Austin for the remainder of the 2023 season on loan to Castleford Tigers.

“Austin joined the Rhinos last season from Warrington Wolves and has made 41 appearances for the club, scoring four tries and a drop goal in his time at Headingley. He was due to be out of contract at the end of this season.”

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington commented, “The move has all happened very quickly because of tomorrow’s transfer deadline. Blake requested a release yesterday, which Rohan and I have agreed to, and we wish him well in his next venture.

“The timing is not ideal for us as we have some crucial games coming up and need all our players firing together but we also have to be mindful of players’ personal circumstances and especially those, like Blake, who are out of contract soon and concerned about their future.”

Austin won’t feature for Castleford on Friday but will be available to them for the remaining six games of the season and from there it’s unclear where his future lies, seemingly not with Leeds given this current situation.

The former Canberra star had joked in a post game Man of the Match speech on Sky Sports’ that Hetherington should ‘get the cheque book out’, but weeks later the decision by Austin to seek a move elsewhere indicates that won’t be happening.

Austin could be set to remain in Super League but with plenty of NRL sides, including Wests Tigers, looking for halves he may return to Australia although it is is currently unclear.