Rohan Smith reveals Blake Austin move was a ‘surprise’ with Leeds Rhinos coach ‘briefed at 7 or 8 this morning’

Just prior to midday the news broke that Leeds Rhinos Australian half-back Blake Austin was joining relegation threatened Castleford Tigers on a loan deal until the end of the season, and whilst the news was a shock to those on the outside it also came as a surprise to Rohan Smith he’s revealed.

Smith took to the media today just over a couple of hours after the announcement of Austin moving to the Jungle had been made and he explained that he had no prior knowledge of the deal until just this morning.

“Yeah well, a bit of a surprise to start with,” Smith revealed when asked about the move.

“I went to bed at somewhere between 10.30 and 11 last night and when I started my walk this morning and I turned my phone back on, I had a message saying that it’s likely that a deal had been done with Cas and through the early parts of this morning that was confirmed.

“So yeah, it came as a bit of a surprise for sure.”

Austin was off contract with the Headingley club at the end of the season and he had been eager to secure a deal seemingly having jokingly requested CEO Gary Hetherington to ‘get the cheque book out’, during one of Austin’s live post-match interviews.

Smith’s surprise was picked up on and he was then asked how the process had come about given that he hadn’t been informed, with the Rhinos boss confirming he found out just hours before the news was made public.

“I actually don’t know all of the process that had happened there, but you know at this point in time, close to the transfer deadline, if a decision had been made then I was supportive of that once I was briefed on it at 7 or 8 o’clock this morning.”

It was speculated that a video that circled last night on social media from a podcast that Austin had done weeks prior had potentially triggered the decision.

Smith noted: “I’m not too sure of video, but I know there’s been some stuff on social media but I’m not familiar with all of the ins and outs of that stuff so I couldn’t really comment.”

That video in question can be seen in the tweet below and was reported upon at the time, as seen here.

It’s presumed unlikely that the sharing of the video could have triggered Austin’s move as it was confirmed by Leeds in a tweet themselves that the player had requested the move.