It’s the player registration deadline at noon today and as a result the past few days have seen Super League sides swoop for key players to see the season out, ex Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart joining Leigh Leopards and Blake Austin switching Leeds Rhinos for Castleford Tigers being two of the biggest.
The Gildart rumour had began last week and so when the news was confirmed on Tuesday it wasn’t a huge surprise, however the Blake Austin switch came out of nowhere with even the player describing it as a whirlwind and ‘the strangest 12 hours’ of his career.
Rohan Smith revealed to the press yesterday that he only found out of the deal on the morning of the switch, whilst Andy Last revealed he thought the initial approach was a “wind-up”.
Last explained: “Yeah, things started to happen around about 9 o’clock yesterday evening,” Last explained.
“Yeah, shocked. When I got the message, I was thinking, nah, it’s a wind-up, surely not, surely not.”
Over at Headingley though, Smith told the media: “It came as a bit of a surprise for sure… “I was supportive of that once I was briefed on it at 7 or 8 o’clock this morning.”
The major reaction though came from social media with Tigers, Rhinos and neutral fans all having an opinion on the 32-year-old’s shock move.
— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) August 3, 2023
Austin himself addressed the Fords fans.
Swear this season is fake https://t.co/yEM1712DoZ
— Callum Banks (@CallumB70349210) August 3, 2023
One fan referenced what a huge rollercoaster the season had been, joking it had been ‘fake’.
enjoy him kicking it out on the full, he likes to do that
— Josh Thompson (@Thompson_98) August 3, 2023
A Leeds fan joked about Austin playing on the small Wheldon Road pitch.
*Could* be a lifesaver
— 🇬🇧🇺🇦 Filosofizer🇺🇦 🇬🇧 (@Filosofizer) August 3, 2023
One Twitter user was more positive and noted how important the move could be for the Tigers.
Happy with this signing, I hope Blake does the job for the Tigers. https://t.co/ZGWI6Y6x43
— Adrian Vowles (@AdrianVowles13) August 3, 2023
Club legend Adrian Vowles was another that was very happy with the signing.
Reeks of desperation this. Reason I believe Wakefield will stay up now. They got their business done early, and the side has gelled. Castleford are scrambling around for anyone who is willing to join them.
I'm interested to see who Leeds brings in to replace Austin, too. 🤔🤔 https://t.co/jF7Gi1bEkf
— James Pike (@JamesPike1702) August 3, 2023
Whereas another fan thought it showed the poor transfer policy of the Tigers, claiming it ‘reeked of desperation’.
Wow didn't see this coming this has the potential to be a season saver for us https://t.co/CDt9K9Yf9M
— Gareth Pearce (@Garethvicar) August 3, 2023
The Cas fans seemed to be split with another stating it could be a ‘season-saver;.
Great to see the club take a stand on this, can’t be slagging the club off in public
— @chrisacdandb (@chrisacdandb) August 3, 2023
Leeds fans were generally positive in response after footage had emerged of Austin ‘slagging the club off’ on the JBK podcast.
Imagine starting the season with a Leeming – Austin – Sezer – Myler spine and the only one you're choosing to take to September is Aiden Sezer https://t.co/06LSSF6VeB
— GTT (@Ad_Iudicium_) August 3, 2023
One noted what it meant for Leeds’ spine.
Whatever happens we won’t see Austin debut tonight, but he’ll instead debut at Belle Vue in the ‘relegation Grand Final’ against Wakefield Trinity in two weeks time.