“I was thinking it’s a wind-up”: Andy Last reveals how shock Blake Austin move happened

Andy Last has spoken with the press today for the first time since the shock signing of Blake Austin from Leeds Rhinos, something that was announced just before midday, and he’s explained that when he first heard of the links he believed they were a “wind-up”.

Austin heads to the Jungle with Castleford sitting in eleventh, level on points with but ahead of Wakefield Trinity on account of a greater points difference of just 12, and he’s been recruited to give them a sense of direction that they’ve lacked for much of the season.

Recent loanee Riley Dean has been recalled to Warrington and it’s also been confirmed that hooker Paul McShane is likely out for the season meaning that signing a general on the field was of huge importance.

That’s what the club get in Austin, a player who on his day is one of the best in Super League, the issue being that his day doesn’t come along as consistently as it should do.

Either way he’s still a huge coup for the Tigers and that’s something that Andy Last is very aware of as he’s revealed the shock of learning that the 32-year-old was keen on a move to Wheldon Road.

“Yeah, things started to happen around about 9 o’clock yesterday evening,” Last explained.

“I got a call saying there may be a possibility of getting Blake to come to Castleford and we did a little bit of work last night and managed to get the deal done.

“He’s a real, real key addition to us. He’s a maverick, he’s someone who can win games single-handedly and I think he’ll really, really help us as a team.”

On learning of Austin’s availability, Last added: “Yeah, shocked. When I got the message, I was thinking, nah, it’s a wind-up, surely not, surely not.

“Then obviously when things happened and I ended up getting his number and we had a little bit of a chat, we basically just said about the opportunity to come here and help us stave off the threat of relegation and get some real good performances, get some wins.

“Getting him to be that X Factor player that he’s been for obviously Leeds and Warrington and Canberra, and he said ‘it sounds good’.

“To get someone of his quality at this time of the year is absolutely fantastic. Brilliant bit of work by the club and I’m so pleased to have him on board.”

Austin will have to wait for his debut as it was confirmed that he would not be available to feature on Friday night but with the Challenge Cup next week, he’ll have two full weeks to get familiar with the squad ahead of the crucial ‘relegation Grand Final’ against Wakefield on August 18th.

“He’ll obviously come into the environment on Saturday. He’ll do a little bit of work on Saturday morning. Hopefully after we’ve had a victory on Friday night and then get to work with him with a view to obviously coming to consideration for that Wakefield game.”